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The political world of Queens is buzzing with possibilities about who will run for Congress in the wake of U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman’s surprising announcement Thursday evening that he will retire after his term ends in January, but by Monday the political storm should settle.
Ackerman (D-Bayside) sent notice of his retirement just after 7 p.m. Thursday, hours after another Queens Democrat declared he would not step on the congressman’s toes during his re-election campaign, and hours before he was set to be officially endorsed by the Democratic Party.
Ackerman has stayed mum on the subject, with both the veteran politician and his office declining a request for comment.
The rest of Queens has not stayed so quiet.
On Monday, Queens Democratic Party head U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) will officially endorse a lawmaker for the run, since petitioning for the race begins on Tuesday, according to lawmakers.
On the shortlist for the nomination, according to several political sources, is state assemblymembers Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows), along with state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and City Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens).
The reasons for Ackerman’s abrupt departure were unclear and left many in the Democratic Party baffled.
Lancman visited Ackerman at the congressman’s home on Thursday, according to several sources.
Afterward, Lancman released a statement indicating he would not run against Ackerman. Mere hours after that, Ackerman sent out notice that he would bow out of office Jan. 2, 2013.
Lancman had announced last month he would run against U.S. Rep. Bob Turner (R-Middle Village) in New York’s 9th congressional district, but the recent adjustment of districts using 2010 census data would have pitted the Democrats against one another.
For weeks before Thursday’s announcment, Ackerman was adamant that he would run, which made his plans to retire all the more shocking, according to lawmakers.
Neither Ackerman nor Lancman could be reached Friday.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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