Political Scrum Starts As Election Is Called
By DOMENICK RAFTER
When Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for a Sept. 13 special election to fill former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner's seat, along with six open State Assembly seats statewide - including two in Queens, the typically-slow political off-year kicked off with a bang.
This Wednesday, Queens Democratic Party leaders designated the nominees for the Assembly races, though they have not announced a selection for the Congressional seat.
Democrats nominated Mike Simanowitz, a District Leader and recently-retired Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn's former chief of staff, to be the nominee to replace her. In the district previously served by Audrey Pheffer, who resigned to take over as Queens County Clerk, the Democrats chose Philip Goldfeder, an aide to U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, who lives in Far Rockaway.
Republicans had been expected to go with District Leader Jane Deacy of Breezy Point, a former police officer, but a final decision has not been announced. No Republican candidate has been named for the Mayersohn seat. Any independent parties have until July 13 to submit petitions to get on the ballot. The six major parties are not required to go through the petition process.
The vacant Assembly seats both significantly overlap the 9th Congressional District. Mayersohn's former district includes Electchester, Kew Gardens and Kew Gardens Hills, while Pheffer's former district includes Ozone Park, Howard Beach and Broad Channel, as well as parts of the Rockaway Peninsula - all shared by the 9th Congressional District.
In the Congressional race, Queens Democrats whose names have been floated include former Council members Melinda Katz and Eric Gioia, as well as Assemblymen David Weprin (D-Little Neck) and Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest). Some insiders have said that a run by Katz, who has two young children at home, is unlikely.
Recently, after some public discussion, former U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman, who represented much of the Brooklyn portion of the 9th district during the 1970s, has said she would run for the seat if offered the spot by the Dems.
Holtzman may be an attractive choice if she decides to run as a "caretaker" of the seat in the event the district, which gained less population according to Census numbers than its surrounding districts, is eliminated in 2012.
One person familiar with discussion among district leaders said that there is a split among some Democrats - those who want to have a solid, long-term candidate run for a seat that would continue after 2012, and those who fear that a solid candidate, when faced with redistricting, could challenge Queens Democratic Chairman Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) or another long-standing Congress member in order to hold onto the seat.
Republicans are looking to a slew of candidates, including businessman Bob Turner of Breezy Point, who received just shy of 40 percent of the vote in 2010 against Weiner. Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), a favorite of national Republicans, took his name out of the running, as did Democratic Assemblyman Dov Hikind of Brooklyn, who has often endorsed Republicans for city, state and federal office.
The 9th Congressional district includes stretches from Glen Oaks west to Ridgewood including Forest Hills and Kew Gardens, then heads south to include Woodhaven, Ozone Park, Howard Beach, Broad Channel, the western half of the Rockaway Peninsula and the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Brighton Beach, Sheepshead Bay, Marine Park, Mill Basin and Midwood.
Reach Reporter Domenick Rafter at firstname.lastname@example.org or (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125.