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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.

But the New York Times endorsed Meng on Saturday, belying that Lancman is an insurgent candidate. Meng has the support of the establishment, from politicians such as retiring Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) to the backing of outside groups such as EMILY’s List.

EMILY’s List has dropped more than $100,000 on independent expenditures in favor of Meng.

It’s unclear just how much of an effect Ackerman’s endorsement will have because the majority of the district is not his current territory.

Turner represents just less than half of the new district’s residents, while Ackerman represents about 38 percent of them.

Meng’s campaign got off to a shaky start, and she admitted as much in an interview Friday.

“It was a very short runway and we suddenly and unexpectedly had to start a Congressional campaign, and it was not the easiest start,” she said.

Meng was bullish on the state of campaign, saying “the momentum is behind us.”

Meng has outraised Crowley and Lancman, according to the most recent Federal Election Commission filings. And she said every night her campaign has 20 to 30 people knocking on doors. Meng noted that her campaign has mailed more literature to voters than any other campaign.

In a nod to the district’s diversity, Meng said her campaign has literature in English, Spanish, Korean, Chinese, Russian, Greek and Bengali.

Lancman is Jewish and has worked to appeal to the considerable Jewish population in the 6th.

Meng said ethnicity would be a component in any election, but she noted that appealing to a single ethnic base of voters wouldn’t be enough win in the heavily Democratic district.

“We each have to go beyond our so-called voter base,” she said. “I can’t win just based on the Asians. He can’t win just based on the Jewish vote. Liz can’t win just based on the Irish votes.”

Turnout is also an issue to watch. Congressional primaries have traditionally been held in New York state in September. But this year, a judge ordered the Congressional primary to be held in June.

“Even the most tuned-in voters are not going to know what’s going on,” the top New York Democratic strategist said.

Meng will have the considerable force of the Queens Democratic Party’s get-out-the-vote effort behind her. Lancman, however, has the backing of the Working Families Party and some unions with GOTV experience.

All the factors at play leave unaffiliated New York Democrats unsure of what will transpire Tuesday night.

Crowley was bullish on Meng’s chances.

“Grace Meng is on the cusp of making history as the first Asian-American elected to the U.S. Congress from New York,” the Congressman said. “I’m proud to support Grace in the primary because she is the right fit for the district.”

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