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State Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) vanquished City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) in Tuesday’s election, becoming the first Asian American federal lawmaker from New York state.
Hurricane Sandy threw a wrench into the city Board of Elections’ plans in other parts of Queens, but no polling sites were moved or relegated to tents in the district running from Flushing and Bayside through Forest Hills, Ridgewood and Middle Village, although the storm’s effect on turnout was not immediately known.
“Tonight is historic in that we’ve taken one small step in getting more women elected to government,” Meng said at her victory party in the Sheraton LaGuardia Hotel in downtown Flushing.
In the weeks leading up to Meng’s victory, both she and her opponent released polls that predicted drastically different results. Halloran’s assessment had him neck-and-neck with Meng, but the assemblywoman’s camp immediately tried to debunk the numbers and released internal polls showing Meng with a commanding lead.
Meng’s numbers turned out to be more reflective of the votes, with early numbers putting her ahead of Halloran by a wide margin.
The assemblywoman’s win means that the mother of two will trade Albany for Washington, D.C., but it may also vault her into a new position in Queens.
Politics in Flushing is rarely dull, with different factions and ethnic groups all jockeying for position in the largely Asian-American enclave.
City Comptroller John Liu, who was formerly a Flushing councilman, has exercised considerable influence in the neighborhood after he became the first Asian American to attain citywide office. He is well-known in the Chinese community, where his opinion has considerable sway. Two of Flushing’s district leaders, who are elected and responsible for choosing who runs on the Queen Democratic Party ticket, work for Liu.
Meng’s rise to the national stage could eclipse that power, according to Queens political insiders who did not want to be named.
Halloran’s loss hardly puts him out of politics. He is expected to run for re-election to his City Council seat next year and was collecting contributions for that runup until he announced his congressional aspirations in late March.
The Republican was severely outmatched financially.
The latest filings with the Federal Election Commission were only as current as Oct. 17, which means any last-minute fund-raising and spending was not included. But by that time Meng had already spent about $1.3 million on the election after raising $1.6 million. Halloran, on the other hand, spent about $90,000 after raising about $116,000, meaning his war chest was about one-tenth the size of the Democrat’s.
The campaign between Meng and Halloran often drifted into back-and-forth finger pointing.
Halloran referred to Meng as a “Chinese national” when interviewed for an Israeli newspapers, but later said that he was misquoted.
Meng did not file her personal financial disclosure forms for four months after they were due, only turning them in once it was pointed out by the Halloran camp.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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