Queens Congressmember Gary Ackerman will have a Democratic primary on September 14 after all.
The Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Ackerman’s Democratic opponent in the 5th Congressional District, Patricia Maher, would be on the primary ballot, reversing a decision rendered by a Nassau County Supreme Court judge.
“What he did was really despicable,” said Maher, the director of development and community education for a not-for-profit health care foundation, referring to Ackerman’s attempts to get her removed from the ballot. “Maybe he thought I wouldn’t have the guts, the nerve or the money to bring it to the Appellate Division, but I did.”
Ackerman, who has represented northeast Queens and Nassau County in the 5th Congressional District for 14 terms, said challenging a candidate’s petitions is not something unusual, particularly in Queens
“When petitions look suspicious, the campaign challenges the petitions,” Ackerman said. “My petitions were challenged by just about everybody on the ballot.”
However, Ackerman said that after the Appellate Division ruled in favor of Maher, he wasn’t going to appeal.
“Let her get on the ballot. What do I care, I don’t even know her,” Ackerman said.
Maher, who said she has been a resident of Nassau County for 40 years, said she decided to challenge Ackerman in a primary this year because of the country’s $13 trillion debt and because she believes he has failed to bring jobs and improved economic conditions to people in the district.
“This is an unseen Congressman for 28 years,” Maher said. “I think 28 years is long enough.”
Ackerman talked about how this is just his opponents looking for him to spend money now in the hopes of depleting his funds for the general election in November.
“If they want me to spend money, fine, I’m helping the economy in my district,” he said.
Although Ackerman sounded dismissive of Maher, he said that he takes everything seriously, and since Maher is on the ballot, he will take the race seriously too.
“Welcome to the neighborhood; welcome to our district; welcome to the Democratic Party; and welcome to the race,” Ackerman said.