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Republican Taub in uphill battle vs. Meeks

Kew Gardens resident Asher Taub knows he has his work cut out for him.

Taub is a Republican running against U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica), a 12-year Democratic incumbent, for a district that is heavily Democratic and where nearly 90 percent of the voters went for President Barack Obama in the last election.

The Republican, who is white and Orthodox Jewish, concedes it is unusual to see someone like himself running for the 6th Congressional District, which has been served by black representatives for the past two decades.

“Being religious like me in this district, you don’t always see that,” said Taub, who noted getting signatures for his petitions was a “disaster in New York state.”

The 6th Congressional District covers most of southeast Queens, including Jamaica, Laurelton, Rosedale, St. Albans, Springfield Gardens, Far Rockaway and parts of Ozone Park, Howard Beach, Kew Gardens and Richmond Hill.

A Brooklyn-based personal injury attorney who grew up in Kew Gardens, Taub said he decided around mid-May to make his first run for public office and is focusing much of his campaign around job creation, health-care reform, immigration and defense.

The Republican challenger said he hopes to focus on job creation, which he said would be a boost to areas like southeast Queens, hit hard by the recession. While southeast Queens has also been heavily affected by the foreclosure crisis, Taub said he did not believe there was much the federal government could do to help those in or facing foreclosure.

“I actually blame the Black Caucus for a lot of foreclosure issues,” Taub said. “When the loose lending rules came up by [former President George W.] Bush, they were shot down as being racist.”

Taub added that the caucus’s past actions against the Republicans’ agenda for the housing crisis has come back to hurt not only the party but the Queens constituents.

“The problem is that they basically buried their own minority,” he said. “It’s really in one way bigotry on their own people.”

A supporter of repealing the federal health care legislation that recently passed, Taub said health-care reform should revolve around changing the law so doctors can be sued for recklessness instead of negligence.

“Because a doctor is afraid of making a mistake, if you come in for a stomachache, instead of saying, ‘It’s a stomachache and will probably go away,’ he sends you for 60 different tests you probably don’t need because if he doesn’t he could get sued,” Taub said.

As for southeast Queens, Taub said the closing of Mary Immaculate Hospital was a problem.

“There’s no question there’s a void and there will continue to be a void,” he said.

Taub criticized some of the Democratic leadership for allowing Meeks to run for another term in light of the financial problems the congressman has come up against.

The incumbent has been in the hot seat over the last few weeks over two personal loans, including a 2007 $40,000 loan which he received from a Richmond Hill developer that he did not disclose in his initial financial disclosure statements with the House of Representatives. Meeks only listed those loans in June, a month after House representatives are required to make their filings.

He has also been scrutinized for his role in the nonprofit group New Direction Local Development Corp., which is under federal investigation for questionable spending practices.

“With all the scandals going on, why are they letting him run?” Taub said. “People figure black people are stupid and they’ll all vote for him.”

Taub, whose mother is from Colombia and whose father is a Holocaust survivor from Hungary, said he understands how important immigrants are to the country’s economy. A supporter of the recent immigration law in Arizona, Taub said he believes the federal government should build a wall with a moat and barbed wire fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“We need to close the border,” he said. “It’s easy to do it; Israel does it.”

Undocumented immigrants currently in the country should, if they are working and do not have a criminal background, be given temporary work visas, Taub said.

Taub said the war in Iraq “thankfully was successful,” but he has “no idea” what to do in Afghanistan.

“Afghanistan is a country that hasn’t been able to be conquered in 3,000 years,” Taub said. “[Gen. David] Petraeus is taking a job that’s a killing field for American soldiers.”

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson and Ivan Pereira by e-mail at timesledgernews@cnglocal.com.

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