The race for the newly created congressional seat in Flushing became more contentious over the last week, with accusations flying between candidates, their competitors and Queens civic groups even as the hopefuls picked up more endorsements.
A June 26 Democratic Party primary is set for the seat, which is based in Flushing and extends westward through Forest Hills to portions of western Queens and east through Fresh Meadows. One candidate has accused another of propagating misleading campaign literature.
The campaign of state Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) took issue with a mailer sent by her opponent, Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows), in which Lancman said he was “the only one who fought for the Millionaire’s Tax in the Assembly.”
Meng’s camp disagreed and cited an op-ed she wrote in support of the measure in 2011, her prominent presence in news conferences on the subject and statements she had made in support of the tax, which was eventually extended.
“While Rory Lancman was busy relishing in his self-promotion, Grace Meng was in Albany building bridges with her colleagues and negotiating the agreement that actually delivered real tax relief for struggling, middle-class families in Queens,” a spokesman for Meng said. “Assemblywoman Meng is proud to be a part of the team that rolled up their sleeves and got the job done. We have enough self-serving, headline-chasing politicians in Washington, D.C.”
But Lancman’s camp firmly stood by the statement, saying, “If Meng was a leader in the fight for tax fairness, it must have been a top-secret operation.”
The campaign cited Lancman’s op-eds in the Daily News and The Huffington Post, as well as in the upstate Times Union in 2008 before Meng was elected. The campaign also cited appearances on Fox Business News and Capital Tonight to discuss the issue.
“We’re glad the Meng campaign wants to have a conversation about who has a record of leadership on issues of economic fairness and who doesn’t,” a spokesman said, also citing Lancman’s plan to push the Buffett Rule and eliminate capital gains taxes if elected.
But other figures in the Assembly were puzzled at Lancman’s pronouncement as well.
“If that is what it says, it is not accurate,” said Assemblyman Karim Camara (D-Brooklyn), chairman of the state Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus, of which Meng is a member. “The caucus and Grace Meng have definitely been pushing for the millionaire tax in the state.”
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) said in a statement “many members were strong advocates in our fight to extend the millionaire’s tax, including both Grace Meng and Rory Lancman.”
But Meng had her detractors last week as well.
During a campaign forum at the West Cunningham Park Civic Association, Juan Sheng interrupted the proceedings to bash Meng for knocking her off the ballot. Sheng is a Flushing television producer who was eliminated after her signatures were challenged by the Queens Democratic Party, which endorsed Meng.
Lancman was also on the receiving end of verbal barbs during the forum from the son of Dr. Robert Mittman after Lancman unsuccessfully attempted to knock the Bayside allergist off the ticket. Mittman officially announced his campaign last week in front of the shuttered St. John’s Hospital in Elmhurst.
City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) also took flak this week for looking at her smartphone during a candidate forum at the Kissena Park Civic Association.
Crowley was recently endorsed by the Communication Workers of America Local 1101.
Lancman recently got the nod from The Jewish Press. Lancman also received the nod from former city Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum.
And Meng was recently endorsed by the New York chapter of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, along with the National Troopers Coalition and the Police Benevolent Association of the New York State Troopers.