The three Democrats vying for the chance to replace Gary Ackerman in the House of Representatives just got a challenger from the other side of the aisle.
On Monday, Republican and current Councilman Dan Halloran announced his candidacy at a rally in Flushing’s Bowne Park in his northeast Queens council district. He joins a race that includes Democrats Assemblywoman Grace Meng, Assemblyman Rory Lancman, and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley.
Those three will square off in a primary at the end of June.
Much like the large group of Queens Democrats who joined Meng for her official campaign announcement over the weekend, several prominent Republicans joined Halloran, including the chairs of both the Republican and Conservative parties, former state senator Frank Padavan, fellow Councilman Eric Ulrich, and former congressman Rick Lazio.
“[Dan Halloran] is the type of guy that we need to rally around,” Lazio told a group of about 75 supporters. “He will step up and do not what is easy, but do what is difficult and tough because that is the right thing to do.”
Halloran said there were three main issues facing the American people right now: jobs, national defense, and gas prices. Like Meng in her announcement, Halloran also touched on what is quickly becoming a major issue in this race: Israel.
“Democrats in Washington, led by President Obama, have thumbed their nose at Israel, calling for a return to its 1967 borders and showing an unwillingness to stand up to our mutual enemy, Iran, who wishes to destroy us,” said Halloran.
At Meng’s announcement she also touted her commitment to Israel, and several Jewish elected officials from the borough vouched for her. And on Sunday, Lancman spent part of the day preparing Passover meals for the needy in the Jewish community.
And on Tuesday, Lancman held a press conference concerning a law allowing passports issued to Americans born in Jerusalem to include Israel as their place of birth. The 8-1 decision rejected the State Department’s contention that courts lack the power to consider lawsuits brought to enforce the law.
Technically, the Congressional seat in question isn’t Ackerman’s old seat, but an entirely new district that was redrawn when New York City lost a House representative based on the 2010 Census numbers.
It stretches essentially from the Nassau/Queens border in northeast Queen and stretches across Forest Hills and Rego Park all the way to Maspeth and Glendale to the Queens/Brooklyn border.
While not overwhelmingly Jewish, it does contain significant pockets of Jewish voters.
Lancman was the first to officially announce his candidacy, and last Thursday, Crowley made her campaign official with a press conference in front of the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
Flanked by her two sons and a group of supporters, Crowley touted her working-class background and the government programs helped her and her family get ahead – such as Medicare and federal student loans – but that were now slowly being eroded.
“My father died when I was seven, and Social Security helped my mom like so many others,” she said.
Hanging over Crowley’s campaign is the shadow of her cousin, Congressman Joseph Crowley, who is also the head of the Queens County Democratic Party, which has officially endorsed Meng.
Liz Crowley was asked about that decision following her announcement.
“That is one person, but the county party is an organization, and the organization made a decision,” she said. “In the end, it is the voters who will decide.”