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Endorsements bestowed in Ackerman seat race

City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (l.-r.) and state Assembly members Grace Meng and Rory Lancman have all racked up endorsements from unions and organizations in the Democratic primary for a Queens congressional seat. Photos by Joe Anuta and Steve Mosco
TimesLedger Newspapers

The three Democrats facing off in the primary for U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman’s (D-Bayside) seat have been racking up endorsements and money ahead of June 26, when one will win the chance to take on the Republican challenger.

Each candidate got the nod from organizations in Queens and beyond, and offered up rough fund-raising estimates ahead of April 15, when their first campaign finance filing will become public.

Comparing the brevity of the primary to a special election, a New York political insider said unions that endorse a candidate have the potential to provide valuable human power to hand out literature, go door-to-door and get out the vote on Election Day.

State Sen. Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) was the first candidate to get union support, when he snagged the nod from the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union March 19.

“I’ve dedicated my career in public life to fighting for the things that matter to working New Yorkers, and it’s a great honor to have the backing of RWDSU and organized labor in this race,” Lancman said in a statement.

Lancman then gained backing from Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ, the Working Families Party and former Mayor Ed Koch, who supported Rep. Bob Turner’s (R-Middle Village) successful bid for Anthony Weiner’s seat in last year’s special election against state Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Little Neck). According to a spokesman, he had raised about $200,000 as of Tuesday afternoon.

City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) received support of her own when she won the backing of the Uniformed Firefighters Association last Thursday.

“We feel very strongly she is the best candidate to represent Queens in Congress,” said Steve Cassidy, president of the association. “And we are very proud to endorse Liz Crowley.”

Crowley is the current chairwoman of the Council’s Fire and Criminal Justice Committee and was an outspoken critic of the mayor’s plan to close 20 firehouses during the 2011 budget dance. Crowley had raised about $100,000 as of Tuesday afternoon, according to a spokesman.

Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) had already received the endorsement of the Queens Democratic organization March 19, days after Ackerman suddenly announced he would not seek re-election.

But she has since garnered endorsements from Emily’s List, a nationwide organization promoting women’s issues, and from the Italian American Political Action Committee.

“Grace Meng is not just a strong candidate, she’s exactly the kind of fierce advocate for women and families that we need in Washington right now,” Stephanie Schriock, president of Emily’s List, said in a statement.

In Whitestone Monday, Meng thanked the Italian American PAC, comparing the struggle of Asian immigrants in Queens to that of Italian immigrants generations before.

Meng and Crowley have often mentioned women’s rights in their public appearances, referring specifically to a discussion about a portion of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act that would require employers to provide contraception coverage. Meng had raised about $300,000 as of Tuesday afternoon, according to her campaign.

Israel has also come up several times, with Lancman holding several press conferences specifically on issues affecting children born to American parents in Jerusalem.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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