The newest challenger in a hotly-contested congressional race fired back after opponents accused him of being a “sham candidate.”
Jeffrey Gottlieb announced his intent to vie for the 6th District seat last weekend, but not without first taking hits from challenger Assemblymember Rory Lancman, who blasted the Queens County Democratic Party for “injecting a fraudulent candidate into the race.”
Lancman said the bogus candidacy was orchestrated by Democrats to deceive Jewish voters in the district and siphon votes away from him.
“The county organization is panicked by the strength of my candidacy,” Lancman said, “but cynically fleecing Jewish voters with a sham candidacy by a longtime party hack is particularly appalling.”
According to Lancman’s campaign manager, Mark Benoit, Gottlieb was collecting signatures for Assemblymember Grace Meng — the Democrats preferred pick — before he threw his hat in the ring. The “malicious” and “last-minute” decision to run, he said, was a scheme “designed to manipulate the electoral process in [Meng’s] favor.”
Meng told The Courier she did not know Gottlieb was collecting signatures for her.
“I haven’t spoken with Jeff in a long time. I know who he is, but I have no other comment besides that,” she said.
Gottlieb, a county patronage employee at the Board of Elections, said he plans on running an aggressive and spirited campaign, in spite of what he called “vicious political attacks.” He shot back at Lancman saying his opponent believes he has become “bigger than those he seeks to represent.”
“Is Rory really that afraid that his record on issues will be challenged here in the community? I think so and his actions clearly show his fear. Why does he proclaim he should be the only Jewish candidate to seek this office? If one of my opponent’s wishes to sling derogatory comments at me, so be it,” he said. “I have a race to run, and the right message that the voters want to hear.”
Lancman said the “deceiving” move would only backfire.
“Voters will rightfully see through this charade, and the party insiders responsible for this hatchet job should be ashamed of their attempt to deny the Jewish community a fair and legitimate election,” he said.
All four Democratic candidates, including Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, will face off in the June 26 primary to contend for the seat recently vacated by retiring U.S. Congressmember Gary Ackerman. The winner is expected to go up against the sole Republican runner, Councilmember Dan Halloran.