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Rep. Israel visits Queens to launch campaign

U.S. Rep. Steve Israel talks with Warren Schreiber, president of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance. Photo by Christina Santucci
TimesLedger Newspapers

U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Hauppauge), the five-term congressman from Long Island, hosted a breakfast at Fort Totten Saturday morning to kick off his 2012 re-election campaign now that his new district encompasses part of northeast Queens.

Since 2001, Israel has represented Nassau and Suffolk county communities in the 2nd Congressional District. When state legislators redrew district lines earlier this year, Israel decided he would run in the new 3rd CD, which stretches west from Smithtown, L.I., to include Douglaston, Little Neck, Glen Oaks, Floral Park, Bellerose, Bay Terrace and Whitestone.

“You and I don’t know each other all that well yet, but we’re going to get to know each other well,” Israel told about 25 people gathered at the Fort Totten Officers’ Club, who included state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), state Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside) and Ann Jawin, who chairs the board of the Center for the Women of New York.

The most northeastern neighborhoods in Queens — along with the adjoining communities in northwestern Nassau County — in the new district were culled together from Rep. Gary Ackerman’s (D-Bayside) old 5th CD.

Israel said it was Ackerman who encouraged him to run for Congress in 2000 when he was serving as a town councilman in Huntington, L.I. Israel said Ackerman, who announced earlier this year he planned to retire, could not make the meeting due to a personal obligation, but pledged to pick up where he would leave off.

“I know Gary has been an incredibly effective representative for this community,” Israel said. “I have big shoes to fill, though I’ll never fill his boutonniere.” He was referring to Ackerman’s signature white carnation that he wears daily in his lapel.

Israel said he would make jobs, education and health care his priorities and criticized House Republicans for threatening to shut down the federal government over funding to Planned Parenthood and efforts to have the language of “forcible rape” included in an anti-abortion bill.

“One of the main reasons we need a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives is because ... we’re going to focus on creating jobs, not redefining rape,” he said. “We’re going to focus on investing in schools, not divesting from women’s health care.”

Israel is chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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