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Democratic Primary Going to Wire in Queens

Courtesy Grace Meng
Rep. Joe Crowley is working hard to ensure a win for Assemblywoman Grace Meng (above) in the Queens-based 6th district Democratic primary in New York City next Tuesday.

Nine months after now-Rep. Bob Turner (R) won an upset victory in the heart of New York City, there could be another electoral surprise next Tuesday in Queens.

The outcome of the contentious primary won’t cost House Democrats a seat, but party leaders could be dealt an embarrassing loss.

Assemblywoman Grace Meng faces ambitious Assemblyman Rory Lancman and New York City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley in the Democratic primary in the deeply diverse, reconfigured 6th district. Meng is backed by Rep. Joe Crowley, the chairman of the Queens County Democratic Party and the cousin of Councilwoman Crowley. Also on the ballot is physician Robert Mittman, who will probably come in fourth place.

Congressman Crowley, who helped pick the party’s nominee in the September special election that brought Turner to Congress, will take a hit if Meng loses, insiders said.

“One should not underestimate Mr. Crowley’s strong desire to win this,” one New York Democratic operative said, noting that the Congressman was pushing hard to avoid a Meng loss. “I think he would not like that outcome to happen for reasons related to the perceived strengths of the county organization.”

Regardless of the outcome, in a borough with a large Asian population, Crowley supporting an Asian-American candidate is probably smart politics.

And Crowley allies said he remains a key power broker in New York politics no matter what happens.

“He’s certainly invested in it,” one Crowley ally in New York City said, but “it’s not the be-all and end-all for him.”

Tuesday “is going to be a referendum of how good a campaign did Grace Meng run,” the source added. “If you’ve got the most money and the largest ethnic base, you should win.”

Meng has both. Almost 40 percent of the voting-age population in the district is Asian, and she had $345,000 in cash on hand on June 6.

A top Democratic strategist in New York said that the crowded field, redistricting and the ethnic politics at play in the race “make this a little bit less of a litmus test” on Crowley’s power than conventional wisdom would portray. But, the strategist said, a Meng win would be a real boon for Crowley’s reputation.

Lancman, who appears locked in a contest for first with Meng, had some momentum last week as he received the endorsement of the New York Daily News and the Queens Chronicle.

“The home stretch! It’s going exceedingly well,” Lancman said in an interview Friday. “We’re peaking at the right time.”

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