Tag Archives: Congress

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Tuesday: Partly cloudy in the morning, then clear. High of 46. Winds from the NE at 5 to 10 mph. Tuesday night: Partly cloudy in the evening, then overcast. Low of 41. Winds from the NE at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 30%.

QUEENS COURIER 2012 ELECTION DAY COVERAGE

Throughout the day and night Queens Courier will be updating our website, Facebook page and Twitter account (@QueensCourier) using the hastag #courierpolitics, with news and photos on the local elections and presidential race, from the casting of ballots to the final results.

If you have yet to head to the polls or even make up your mind about whom to vote for, check out our Queens Election Guide.

Voters who have been displaced by Sandy and can’t vote at their regular poll site, can find out if their voting place has been relocated here or, as Governor Cuomo announced last night, can cast an affidavit ballot at any poll site in New York State.

 Storm to hit Sandy-stricken Northeast

As the Northeast still recovers from Sandy, another storm is poised to strike the area later this week. Read more: Queens Courier

Families search for loved ones in the wake of Sandy

A Broad Channel man battled a broken boardwalk last week in search of his 65-year-old father, who refused to abandon his Rockaway beachfront home. Read more: Queens Courier

Hurricane Sandy could decide fate of New York State Senate

The future of the New York State Senate could be decided in the flood-soaked, fire-scarred parts of Queens that were hardest hit by superstorm Sandy. Read more: New York Daily News

Schools reopen to snarls; transit headaches persist

In Lower Manhattan, students shivered in school buildings that had lights, but no heat; on Staten Island, they sat by classmates whose homes had been destroyed; and in every borough, some students stayed home as the city used their classrooms, hallways and gymnasiums as shelters. Read more: New York Times

Cabbies demand express lane for fueling up, complain of long daily waits

On Monday night, New York City cabbies were demanding an express lane at local gas stations, as they complained of waiting up to six hours a day to refuel. Read more: CBS New York

In case of a recount, a long wait for Ohio

Election Day in Ohio is Tuesday, as in every other state in the union. But if the margin in the presidential contest is narrow here, as many polls predict, the winner may not be known until well into December. Read more: New York Times

New Congress likely to frustrate Obama or Romney

No matter who is elected president, he’s likely to find that the next Congress will remain what the current one has been for President Barack Obama – a headache. Read more: AP

Congressional races set records for spending

There may be little drama left in the outcome, but you wouldn’t know that by watching the final days of campaigning in the battle for the U.S. House. Read more: CNN

 

Meng, Halloran go head to head in Middle Village


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A state assemblymember criticized for being “too nice” and a city councilmember deemed “too aggressive” dueled in a Middle Village debate last week.

The two candidates running for the open 6th District Congressional seat — Democratic Assemblymember Grace Meng and Republican Councilmember Dan Halloran — detailed their stances on hot-button federal issues and defended themselves against their negative portrayals at a Juniper Park Civic Association forum held on October 18.

The hopefuls butted heads when it came to their clashing opinions on the Affordable Care Act and immigration reform.

While Meng believes the Affordable Care Act is not a “perfect system” — saying it initially led to confusion for small business owners and fear for seniors — she said the federal statute, commonly called Obamacare, is a “great step in a very important direction.”

Halloran disagreed, saying the health care law will stifle small businesses and create “as many problems as it’s going to solve.” He also said health care should be a state issue and not one handled by the federal government.

In regards to immigration reform, the two candidates were unified in saying providing help to legal Americans come first, but they did not share the same views on passing the DREAM Act. Meng supports the bipartisan legislation — which would make qualifying undocumented youths eligible for a path to citizenship if passed — while Halloran firmly said there should be no path to citizenship for anyone who comes to the country illegally.

The hopefuls then had a chance to debunk how they are commonly depicted. Halloran said he may be seen as “too aggressive,” but that forcefulness, he said, is sometimes necessary to get things done.

“Nobody stands up for the county of Queens loudly enough,” he said. “You don’t do that by being quiet.”

Meng, on the other hand — who said she is seen by many as being “too nice” — said that quality should not be underestimated.

“Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness,” she said.

Halloran, Meng polls at odds over 6th District race


| brennison@queenscourier.com

meng halloran

A new poll released by Councilmember Dan Halloran found him and Assemblymember Grace Meng in a virtual tie for the 6th Congressional District seat, though his opponent says a 30 point gap still separates them.

Halloran’s poll, conducted by McLaughlin & Associates found the Republican to be trailing Meng by three points, which is within the poll’s margin of error (5.7 percent).

“The poll confirms that Dan Halloran is on his way to winning this race. Dan won over Democrats in his Council race and he is doing it again in the heart of Queens,” said spokesperson Kevin Ryan. “Voters know that he will fight to create jobs, help small businesses and reduce gas prices.”

Meng’s spokesperson released a statement saying internal polling by the campaign has the assemblymember holding a 51-22 advantage in the district.

“Leave it to Dan Halloran to release a tailor-made poll. This “poll” is nothing more than a desperate attempt on behalf of the Halloran campaign to raise money from its far right, radical Tea Party base of support. Once again, Dan Halloran just makes things up and expects no one to question him,” said Meng spokesperson Austin Finan.

One thing the disparate polls agreed upon was the amount of undecided voters. Halloran’s poll measured the number at 30 percent while Meng’s survey found 27 percent still unsure.

Halloran leads Meng among voters who have heard of both candidates (40-35) and who have an opinion of both (61-33), according to the McLaughlin & Associates poll.

The pollsters concluded that in a district that has voted for Republican in the past including Senator Frank Padavan, Senator Serf Maltese, Rudy Giuliani and Halloran, the councilmember can be victorious.

Further proof given was Mitt Romney’s three point lead over President Barack Obama in the district, according to the poll.

A Siena College survey of the 15th Senate District that includes more conservative portions of the 6th Congressional District found Obama to be leading Romney by three points in early October.

McLaughlin & Associates, a national survey research and strategic services company, currently represents 20 sitting members of Congress all of whom are Republican.

Three hundred voters were surveyed on October 10 and 11 for the poll.

Mayor Bloomberg endorses Grace Meng for Congress


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Grace Meng

Assemblymember Grace Meng secured a major boost to her campaign this week, when Mayor Michael Bloomberg touted her as the “independent voice” in Congress for middle-class families and a “bridge-builder in Albany.”

“New Yorkers demand representation in Washington that puts the needs of the taxpayers ahead of partisan politics,” said Bloomberg, who endorsed the Democrat’s run for the 6th District seat on Monday, October 1.

“Whether it’s her outspoken support for sensible gun legislation to help make our streets safer or her advocacy for common sense immigration reform, Grace embodies the values that Queens residents care about most,” the mayor said.

Meng — who also secured boosts from the Uniformed Fire Officers Association and the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association earlier this month — returned the praises, saying the mayor’s leadership helped make the city and nation stronger.

“Like the mayor, I have made the tough, but necessary choices to deliver for my constituents as an assemblymember — a habit I plan to continue as a member of Congress,” she said.

But Meng’s rival, Republican Councilmember Dan Halloran, disagreed on both counts, arguing the mayor disregarded the will of the voters while depicting Meng as a “go-along Democrat,” whose majority of votes lie in tandem with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in Albany.

“I have vocally fought the mayor‘s social engineering pet projects and spending excesses,” Halloran said, “and despite the mayor’s billions, I will continue to speak truth to power. [Meng] certainly isn’t rocking the boat here in New York, and we can’t expect her to in Congress.”

Halloran’s camp minimalized Meng’s mayoral endorsement by dumping it alongside other “feel good” and often widely unpopular measures Bloomberg championed for this year, including the ban on the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks from certain venues.

The soda ban, bike lanes and the endorsement of Meng top the pile of the mayor’s “bad ideas,” the councilmember’s team said.

“Bloomberg’s latest suggestion for the [city], voting for Grace Meng, is just as detrimental to New Yorkers’ freedom and prosperity as the rest of the mayor’s ill-conceived ideas,” said Halloran’s spokesperson, Kevin Ryan. “Our voters need Meng in Congress like they needed the soda ban.”

Bloomberg — now an independent, but who was a Democrat before seeking elective office, later switching his registration in 2001 and running for mayor as a Republican — gave $1 million to State Senate Republicans last week.

Meng also received the endorsement of former mayor Ed Koch in August, but another former mayor, Rudy Giuliani, is slated to be the special guest at an October 9 fundraiser for Halloran.

King endorses Ulrich for State Senate


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

With less than a month until the Republican primary for the 15th State Senate District, Congressmember Peter King endorsed Councilmember Eric Ulrich – adding to the long list of endorsements for the city representative.

“Eric understands that the way to put New Yorkers back to work and grow our economy is by lowering taxes on families and small businesses and reigning in the reckless government spending that has created unsustainable deficits and threatens our competitiveness,” King said. “His conservative principles of limited government, safe streets and a strong quality of life will make him an excellent representative in Albany and I urge all Republicans to vote for him on September 13th.”

Ulrich, who is facing off against former Guiliani staffer Juan Reyes, said he was proud of King’s endorsement, as well as the 10-term representative’s tenure in the House.

“I’m honored to receive the support of Congressman King, a true public servant who has done a great deal for the people of New York,” Ulrich said. “I look forward to working closely with him as a partner on the state level to keep New York City safe, ensure our veterans coming home from war are cared for and revive our economy.”

The primary winner will face off against State Senator Joseph Addabbo, who has represented the district since 2009.

Ozone Park native Ulrich has picked up other major endorsements, including Congressmember Bob Turner, former Governor George Pataki, the Senate Republicans Election Committee and the Queens Conservative and Queens Independent parties.

 

Ed Koch endorses Grace Meng for Congress


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Grace Meng

After backing one of her opponents in the primary, former Mayor Ed Koch endorsed Assemblymember Grace Meng for the newly drawn 6th Congressional District.

“Grace Meng is unequivocally the strongest candidate to maintain strong U.S. relations with the State of Israel,” Koch said on the steps of City Hall on Monday, August 13. “Grace has demonstrated a deep understanding of the nature of Israel’s struggle in its corner of the world and why it’s so important for Israeli and American interests and global security that the United States stands in support of her.”

During the lead up to the Democratic primary, Koch endorsed Assemblymember Rory Lancman, who Meng defeated.

“Mayor Koch has long stood as a pillar of strong U.S.-Israeli relations and a champion of middle class families everywhere, which is why I am so honored and thankful to have his endorsement during this critical moment in our nation’s history,” Meng said of the endorsement.

Koch served in Congress for eight years prior to his 12 years as mayor of New York City.

Meng will face off against Councilmember Dan Halloran in the November 6 general election.

 

[UPDATE] Jimmy Meng arrested on a federal wire fraud charge


| mchan@queenscourier.com

File photo

Former Queens Assemblymember Jimmy Meng, the father of congressional hopeful and current Assemblymember Grace Meng, has been arrested on a federal wire fraud charge for allegedly attempting to scam $80,000 in cash from a state court defendant, federal officials said.

Meng allegedly promised the defendant — who sought the former elected official’s help after being charged with state tax crimes — that his sentence would be reduced to one year if he paid prosecutors $20,000 each in bribes, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Federal prosecutors said Meng offered to be the middle man, instructing the individual to conceal and deliver the $80,000 payout in a fruit basket. The government investigation, however, uncovered no evidence the past politician even contacted prosecutors, and officials said Meng planned to keep the bribe money for himself.

“Give it to me and I will give it to them,” Meng allegedly told the defendant during a July 17 recorded telephone call, the criminal complaint shows.

Meng was caught red-handed on July 24 at his Flushing lumber yard accepting the fruit basket which held thousands of dollars in cash from the defendant, who was cooperating with FBI special agents, authorities said. He was immediately placed under arrest and was released the following day on a $1 million bond secured by his two homes in Bayside and Flushing, said Bob Nardoza, spokesperson for U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch.

The ex-legislator was admonished a few minutes after his hearing by Magistrate Judge Cheryl Pollak for calling the defendant on his cell phone, Nardoza said. Contacting the witness, Nardoza said, violates bail restrictions, and Meng was warned further tampering could land him immediately in jail, the U.S. attorney spokesperson said.

“Jimmy Meng sought to be a power broker in the halls of justice. But the influence he sought to peddle was corrupt and his power was illusory,”  Lynch said in a statement. “This arrest confirms that justice is not for sale.”

Lynch said he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison if convicted.

“This type of conduct discredits the trust we place in our public officials,” said FBI assistant director in charge Janice Fedarcyk.

Last month, Grace Meng won the 6th District Congressional primary, beating three opponents and securing her seat in the general election against Republican Councilmember Dan Halloran.

She thanked her parents during the June 26 victory speech, calling them her “moral compass.” But the congressional candidate is now distancing herself from her father, saying in a statement she is “independent” of him and “always have been, always will be.”

“I am shocked and deeply saddened by these allegations,” Grace Meng said, adding she had no knowledge of his actions or the investigation. “Until more facts emerge and we have a better understanding of the situation, the only thing further I’ll say is that I urge my father to fully cooperate with all authorities.”

Jimmy Meng contributed $5,000 to his daughter’s congressional campaign, Federal Election Commission (FEC) disclosure reports show. He gave her $2,500 for her primary run and another $2,500 for the general election, according to filings.

The former assemblymember was elected to office in 2004, but only served for one year. Grace Meng has been holding his old seat since 2008.

Halloran, who has issued several statements this month criticizing how his opponent handles major district and national issues, declined to comment.

Jeffries campaign brings in more than $1.2 million


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Hakeem Jeffries has built a significant campaign war chest in his quest for Congress — mainly from individual donations.

Assemblymember and congressional hopeful Jeffries has raised $1,235,862, a campaign spokesperson confirmed. The camp filed its quarterly report, which details funds raised up to June 30, with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) on Sunday, July 15.

The finance breakdown on the FEC website shows $1,125,562 came from individual contributions. The remaining $110,300 came from non-party or other committees.

The three-term assemblymember is facing off against Republican Alan Bellone for the freshly-drawn 8th Congressional District. Jeffries defeated Councilmember Charles Barron in a landslide primary on June 26 after getting key endorsements on the federal, state and local level.

Between April 1 and June 6 alone, Brooklyn native Jeffries raised just more than $250,000, his campaign announced in early June. At that time Jeffries for Congress had raised $769,544 from 2,447 donors.

Meng wins 6th District Congressional primary


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alexa Altman

Assemblymember Grace Meng claimed victory by large margins in the hotly-contested 6th District Congressional primary race, according to Associated Press results.

“This is an important victory for Queens,” Meng said during her victory party at Plum Restaurant in Bayside. “This victory is about we. We made this together.”

Meng beat our her three rivals – Assemblymember Rory Lancman, Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley and Bayside allergist Dr. Robert Mittman – by winning 51 percent of the vote, according to AP reports as of 1 a.m. on June 27 when 89 percent of precincts were reporting.

Lancman who was largely seen as Meng’s top competitor — raked in the second highest amount of votes, taking in 28 percent, while Crowley garnered 16 percent and Mittman 5 percent.

“We are celebrating this evening because of you [voters]. We are here for each other and all look out for each other,” Meng said. “Let’s go win this thing in November.”

The candidates each threw their hats in the ring to replace U.S. Congressmember Gary Ackerman after the 15-term elected official announced in March he would not seek re-election this year.

Ackerman threw his support behind Meng on May 29, saying she was “head and shoulders above the rest” in the race. Meng went into the race already backed by the Queens County Democratic Party and gained a huge endorsement at the 11th hour from Governor Andrew Cuomo. She bagged several key endorsements along the way, including a last minute boost from the New York Times.

Lancman, who saw his “almost dream of a lifetime” come to an end, said in his concession speech he would support his Assembly colleague in the general election against Republican runner Councilmember Dan Halloran.

He also praised Crowley, saying she showed “extraordinary personal courage and hard work” in her try for the seat, and thanked his campaign team and supporters.

“What we built here as a campaign — I think starting from scratch and really starting without the infrastructure that comes with the support of the county organization — is something we can be extraordinarily proud of,” he said.

Before his speech, Lancman told a supporter he thinks Mittman may have taken the difference in votes between him and Meng.

The assemblymember, who pledged not to seek re-election for his current seat, did not specify his next plans. However, there are speculations he may seek a City Council or borough president position.

The race to replace him has already begun, with two Democratic and two Republican hopefuls announcing their candidacy.

It was also unclear after her concession whether Crowley intends to seek re-election to her Council seat, but she did confirm she would help get Meng elected.

While Crowley unofficially came in third in the race, she in her speech that her efforts three months ago showed how people choose the candidates, not an organization – alluding to her lack of support from both the County and possibly the party’s chair, who is also her cousin.

“This has been a rollercoaster ride of a campaign, and we really put up a good fight,” she said. “We showed that organized labor still has a voice in New York City.”

Meanwhile, a handful of hopefuls have already been eyeing Meng’s seat, while the assemblymember prepares for the November 6 general election against Halloran and Green Party candidate Evergreen Chou.

“Let’s run this campaign based on issues,” she said to Halloran. “Let’s not discuss race or religion or partake in scare tactics.”

With additional reporting by Alexa Altman and Billy Rennison

Primary Guide: 8th Congressional District


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Parts or all of: Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Lindenwood, Fort Greene, Beford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville, East New York, Canarsie, Flatlands, Marine Park, Brighton Beach, Coney Island and Sea Gate

Name: Charles Barron

Party: Democrat

Current Position: City Councilmember

Personal Info: Married for 29 years with two children

Accomplishments:

-         $80 million for two new schools

-         Number one in affordable housing

-         $15 million for three new park renovations

-         Won fight to keep two senior centers and three schools open in the district

Platform:

-         Defend Medicare & Social Security

-         Universal health care/single payer

-         Restore cuts and increase funding for education

-         Restore cuts and increase funding for housing subsidies

 

Name:  Hakeem Jeffries

Party: Democrat

Current Position: Assemblymember in 57th Assembly District in Brooklyn. He is also a practicing attorney.

Personal Info: Married with two sons

Issues: Job creation, affordable housing and criminal justice reform are major issues of the district.

Platform: In Congress, my plan is to work with President Barack Obama to download all of the resources available directly into the district to spur job creation, preserve and create affordable housing and continue my work with the reform of our criminal justice system and protection of the civil liberties of law-abiding New Yorkers. I have will also fight for more senior housing and stand up to protect Social Security and Medicare.

 

Check out the primary guide for all the races:

5th Congressional District

6th Congressional District

7th Congressional District

U.S. Senate

Low voter turnout expected in 6th District primary


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Candidates in a hotly contested Queens congressional contest expect few of the more than 180,000 registered Democrats to head to the polls for the upcoming primary.

The estimates of the 6th District’s candidates align with a recently released study that found less than a third of registered voters cast a ballot in New York City.

“Voter Turnout in New York City,” a report by the city’s Campaign Finance Board, found that New York City falls well below the state and nation in the percentage of voters that head to the polls.

Only 28 percent of registered voters cast a ballot during 2010’s midterm election, compared to 53 percent in the rest of New York, and 46 percent nationally. A major city race in 2009 did little to boost that number, as just 29 percent of people voted in that year’s mayoral election.

Candidates in the upcoming 6th District Democratic primary do not expect to approach even those numbers.

The campaigns for Assemblymembers Grace Meng and Rory Lancman both expect about 32,000 voters — which equals just 17 percent of the 183,000 registered Democrats.

Candidate Dr. Robert Mittman said he would be surprised to see even 30,000 people at the polls.

Most of the district had between 11 and 25 percent voter turnout in the 2009 elections, the finance board’s report found.

“It’s difficult to predict turnout for such an unprecedented primary election date,” said Austin Finan, Meng’s spokesperson.

Prior to this year, federal primaries were held in September, but were moved in January to comply with the federal MOVE Act, which was enacted to aid voting for those serving in the military overseas.

“It’s going to be a low turnout election,” Lancman’s spokesperson Eric Walker said. “Ask any political professional what’s the most important thing in a low turnout election — and it’s your field operation and your ‘get out the vote’ operation.”

Lancman’s field operation includes going door to door and identifying voters.

With low numbers expected, every vote takes on greater importance.

“We are trying to get as many people out to vote as possible,” said Eric Yun, Crowley’s spokesperson. “We are targeting every vote we could possibly get.”

The campaigning will go down to the very last minute, said Finan.

“We’ve run the strongest, grassroots field operation throughout the course of the campaign, and we are extremely well prepared to get out the vote in the final days of the campaign,” Finan said.

The primary is set for June 26.

- Additional reporting by Melissa Chan

6th District candidates debate issues in Middle Village


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Hundreds of Maspeth and Middle Village residents packed the auditorium of Our Lady of Hope to ask questions and take in a debate between the four 6th District Democratic hopefuls.

Assemblymembers Grace Meng and Rory Lancman, Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley and Dr. Robert Mittman took the stage at the Middle Village school to discuss both local concerns — stop and frisk and hospital closings — and national issues — Social Security and immigration reform.

Candidates answered questions from the audience, each other and a panel consisting of local reporters.

The areas of Maspeth and Middle Village will be in the newly-formed 6th District due to redistricting.

The four-round debate featured its share of contentious moments and an at-times restless audience.

Lancman and Crowley traded barbs throughout the night, with Lancman correcting the councilmember that the MTA is not a state agency, but an independent authority.

Crowley said her plan to fix the economy would not raise taxes on middle class families and businesses,

Meng largely avoided confrontations during the debate.

Citing the “career politicians” and “politics as usual” of the other candidates, Mittman at first drew cheers from the crowd.

The attendees gradually grew restless at the rhetoric, shouting “Answer the question” when they felt he avoided what was asked.

Lawrence Pliska, who attended the debate, said the anti-career politician rants were foolish.

“You do need somebody who understands what’s going on,” he said, before adding he believed Crowley won the debate.

Jeff Kaufman, a lifelong resident of Maspeth and Glendale, felt Lancman was the most polished debater of the candidates, though he was upset some of the more polarizing topics were avoided.

“[Lancman] was able to explain some of the more nuanced issues that either the other candidates didn’t understand or couldn’t explain.”

Roger Clemens found not guilty


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Former Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens was found not guilty of all perjury charges in the government’s case against the seven-time Cy Young Award winner.

Clemens faced the charges stemming from his 2008 testimony in front of Congress that he never used performance enhancing drugs during his career.

The jury found him not guilty of six counts perjury, making false statements and obstructing Congress.

Deliberations began last Tuesday.

This is the second time Clemens faced these charges.  His first trial was declared a mistrial last July.

 

 

Obama endorses Velazquez


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

High Resolution Photo of Nydia_Velazquez

Highlighting efforts to create middle-class jobs and improve education, President Barack Obama endorsed incumbent Congressmember Nydia Velazquez for the 7th Congressional District seat.

“For the past two decades, Rep. Nydia Velázquez has been a constant advocate for middle-class families, helping to create an economy built to last where everyone has an opportunity to achieve the American Dream,” the president said in a statement. “Rep. Velázquez has worked tirelessly to create good middle-class jobs through community projects, provide affordable housing so folks have a decent place to lay their head at night, and invest in education so that the children in her district receive the quality education they deserve.”

Velazquez is currently serving her tenth term in Congress. Her newly-drawn district spans from lower Manhattan all the way to Woodhaven. She is running against City Councilmember Erik Dilan, Dan O’Connor and George Martinez in the June 26 Primary to see who will get the Democratic nod to run for the seat.

 

Social Security at center of 6th District contention


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Rory Lancman

A congressional candidate — who dubbed himself the sole fighter for the Millionaire’s Tax last week — set himself apart from his Democratic primary opponents once more by saying he is “the only candidate” in the race with a real plan to save Social Security.

“Social Security is in crisis,” said Assemblymember Rory Lancman, who is vying for the heavily-contested and newly-redrawn 6th District seat. “There are other candidates in the race who don’t seem to believe so. They think it’s something that we don’t need to address right away. They don’t see the imminence of the problem.”

According to Lancman, Social Security will run out of money in 2033 and will only be able to make about three-fourths of obligated payments at that time.

He said his proposal to lift the exemption on Social Security taxes for individuals with incomes over $110,600 would force “high-income earners to pay their fair share” into the Social Security fund. Scrapping the cap, Lancman said, would guarantee the program’s solvency for the next 75 years.

“That is what is bankrupting Social Security,” he said before taking swipes at his two major primary challengers, Assemblymember Grace Meng and Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley. “The challenge facing Social Security is immediate and severe, and so far I’m the only candidate in this race that has offered a real plan to save Social Security without reducing benefits, raising the retirement age or privatizing Social Security altogether.”

Meng said her plans were geared towards reaching a long-term solution. She said while the fund would definitely be able to pay benefits until 2033, she agreed Congress needs to take action before that.

“The most important thing right now is to ensure that we do whatever we can to stimulate job and economic growth so that in the long run there will be more people paying into the fund,” Meng said. “My point is not that we’re not taking action — it’s that we have to do whatever we can to increase the funds right now.”

Crowley also fired back at her challenger, saying the cap lift would increase taxes on the middle class and small businesses — not high-income earners. She said her plan is to put people back to work and “keep Republicans from cutting Social Security.”

“Raising taxes on the middle class and on small businesses is exactly what we don’t need to help Social Security. I’m sorry that Mr. Lancman thinks that it is a good idea,” Crowley said.

Lancman received a blow of his own from a local religious leader who sent out a “special clarification” last week, saying he was not endorsing the candidate’s policies or run for Congress after his photo was published without permission or notice in Lancman’s recent legislative mailer.

Reverend Thomas Pettei, a pastor at St. Nicholas of Tolentine R.C. Church in Jamaica, declined to comment, but said the letter speaks for itself.

“What upset me was that this mailing included a picture of me with Assemblyman Lancman, standing in front of our church,” Pettei wrote in the letter. “I simply want to make it clear that in no way should this be interpreted as any kind of endorsement of the Assemblyman’s policies or of his current campaign for Congress.”

The mailer was titled “Keeping our Houses of Worship Safe” and referred to legislation Lancman has proposed. Pettei also pointed to disagreements the Catholic Church and Lancman have on several issues as a reason for his concerns.

Meng recently received the endorsement of the New York League of Conservation Voters and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Leadership PAC, while Crowley gained boosts from the Uniformed EMTs, Paramedics and Fire Inspectors FDNY Local 2507 and Uniformed EMS Officers Union Local 3621.