With one month to go before the Democratic primary, retiring Congressman Gary Ackerman is throwing his support behind Assemblywoman Grace Meng to fill his Queens seat. Meanwhile, Meng's competitors are forging ahead on the campaign trail. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.
He may be on his way out of the House of Representatives but Congressman Gary Ackerman wants Queens voters to know that in the race to replace him, he's backing Assemblywoman Grace Meng.
"Grace Meng is a quiet champion of the multitudes of people who need a little bit of help," Ackerman said at a rally Tuesday, where he officially endorsed Meng as his replacement for his seat in Congress.
Ackerman's endorsement is prompting questions. Meng's campaign hired a consulting firm that is part of the Queens Tribune company, a company that is partially owned by Ackerman. The Congressman says there is no connection between the business relationship and his endorsement.
"I own a minority interest in the business," Ackerman said. "It has nothing to do with my endorsement of anybody, ever, ever ever."
Meng may be Ackerman's pick for the seat but it turns out the Congressman has some historic ties to State Assemblyman Rory Lancman, another candidate in the race. When Lancman was a high school student, he was an intern in the Congressman's office.
"It was an unpaid internship," Lancman said. "I think I might have gotten credit for it. High school credit."
Lancman picked up an endorsement from former Public Advocate Mark Green. They are pushing for campaign finance reform to reduce the influence of corporate money in politics.
"I would not accept money from the Exxon Mobils of the world," Lancman said. "I don't know why they would be interested in giving me money. And I certainly would not be interested in taking it."
Another candidate, City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, kept things cordial with her competitor earlier in the day. Both attended a rally to save fire companies from closing down.
Crowley is taking some heat for looking at her cell phone during a recent candidate debate. She was accused of getting answers from someone in the audience. She says she was not sending text messages and was just using the phone as a notepad.
"If it seemed disrespectful, it wasn't at all," she said. "I didn't have a pen and paper."
The primary is four weeks away on June 26.