The race to fill Congressmember Gary Ackerman’ seat may already be over before the first Democratic Party primary nominating petitions are signed. All three declared candidates including State Assemblymembers Grace Meng and Rory Lancman along with NYC Councilmember Liz Crowley are proud products of the Queens Democratic Party clubhouse. Win or lose on Primary Day — June 26th, they all get to keep their current public offices.
Remember the September 2009 Democratic Party Primary for NYC Comptroller? The favored candidate prior to the Queens County Democratic Party Executive Committee meeting in June to select their candidate was then NYC Council Finance Committee Chairperson David Weprin. After fellow NYC Councilmember John Lui in a major upset was selected by Queens County Democratic Congressmember and County leader Joe Crowley, both David Weprin and fellow Queens NYC Council Land Use Committee Chairperson Melinda Katz defied Crowley and the Queens County Democratic Party Executive Committee by staying in the race. Weprin was only supported by neighboring NYC Councilmember James Gennaro, his brother then State Assemblymember Mark Weprin along with the Democratic Party State Assembly District leaders and co leaders from both Weprin and Gennaro’s home political clubhouses. Katz was only supported by her local Democratic Party State Assembly district leaders and local clubhouse. Virtually every other Queens Democratic Party NYC Councilmember, State Assemblymember, State Senator, Congressmember, district leaders, co leaders and local clubhouses followed Crowley and supported John Lui.
Rory Lancman will only have the support of his local Democratic Party clubhouse and State Assembly district leaders. Ditto for Liz Crowley, Every other elected Democratic Party elected official on either the City, State or Federal level along with State Assembly district leaders, co leaders and local clubhouses will be supporting Grace Meng.
Independent Democratic State Senator Tony Avella and NYC Councilmember James Genarro (whose district overlaps with Assemblymember Lanceman) both have already endorsed Meng. It only a matter of time before incumbent Congressmember Gary Ackerman joins the Meng bandwagon..
Even State Assembly member David Weprin has endorsed Meng. This is despite his apparent low standing with both State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Queens County Democratic boss Congress member Joe Crowley. Neither apparently attempted to help Weprin protect his district. It is Silver’s staff appointees to the redistricting commission who could have intervened on Weprins behalf. It is obvious to any observer of Queens politics that they have both given up on David Weprin and are leaving him on his own in a new district. David Weprin doesn’t want to hurt the chances of his younger brother NYC Council member Mark Weprin from being supported by Crowley for either NYC Council Speaker in 2013 or perhaps follow in his footsteps as the next Weprin to serve as NYC Council Finance Committee Chairperson.
The field may appear to be crowded today, but it is a safe bet that Grace Meng will be the last Democrat standing on Primary Day to succeed Gary Ackerman as the new Congressmember. The real contest will take place in the General Election between Meng and her Republican challenger – NYC Councilmember Dan Halloran.