Democratic leaders in Queens announced in Forest Hills on Monday that they are throwing their support behind State Assemblywoman Grace Meng in the race to replace retiring Congressman Gary Ackerman.
If elected, Meng would become New York's first-ever Asian-American member of Congress and the first Queens woman in the House of Representatives since Geraldine Ferraro.
“We’ve made our designation. Our choice is Grace Meng,” said Queens-Bronx Representative Joseph Crowley, the head of the Queens Democratic Party.
Due to new redistricting lines, the 6th Congressional District, which Meng would represent if elected, would be entirely in Queens and would be almost 40 percent Asian-American.
"I’ve always been excited to be a public servant because it gives me an opportunity to reach people of all different backgrounds, and across different bridges. I believe that’s one of my strengths," Meng said. "As an Asian-American woman, there are only 16 percent of women in Congress. That’s really horrendously low. And I think that we need to work across the country to improve those statistics."
Providing support for Meng Monday was another trailblazer, City Comptroller John Liu, the first Asian-American elected to citywide office.
“Grace Meng is a rising star among elected officials, and we’re proud that she’s Asian-American. I happen to be Asian-American myself, and I look forward to having her represent me in Congress,” said Liu.
While Meng will have critical support from party leaders, she will not be the only Democrat in the race. Assemblyman Rory Lancman also announced his candidacy Monday.
“This district, the boundaries of it, may be technically new, but it's not new to me," said Lancman. "The neighborhoods of the district are interwoven into the fabric of my life."
Also running is City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, a cousin of Congressman Joe Crowley.
“I wish both candidates success. I know that it's going to be a short race. We only have about 12 weeks to reach every voter," said Councilwoman Crowley. I think what separates us is that I represent more of the constituents that are currently in the district."
As for Republicans, there are no announced candidates, although City Councilman Dan Halloran is considering a run.
As of Tuesday, candidates can begin gathering petition signatures. Close to a thousand are required to get on the ballot.
The primary election takes place on June 26.