By Alexander Dworkowitz
A political club run by a Flushing labor leader soon will take on the name of former President William Jefferson Clinton.
The New Century Democratic Association, founded by state Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin (D-Flushing), will be renamed the William Jefferson Clinton Democratic Club of Queens.
The renaming will become official on May 14, when the former president is expected to come to Terrace on the Park in Flushing Meadows Corona Park as part of a rededication ceremony.
“The vision of President Clinton brought Republican-voting Democrats back to the party and championed diversity, home ownership, sound economic policy, support for public schools and their teachers, crime reduction and advocacy for all people,” McLaughlin said.
At the JFK Regular Democratic Club meeting on April 18, McLaughlin, the invited speaker, acknowledged that some members questioned the personal behavior of Clinton, who acknowledged having intimate relations with White House intern, Monica Lewinsky.
But McLaughlin, president of the Central Labor Council of the AFL-CIO, added that he thought Clinton’s policy was a model for Democrats.
McLaughlin founded the New Century club in 1999, calling it a place for “common sense Democrats.” McLaughlin described the members as “homeowners, trade unionists and new Americans.” The club supported both Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) in their successful campaigns last year.
McLaughlin said the club likely will expand in the near future.
“We’re going to get a storefront and club headquarters,” McLaughlin said.
McLaughlin said he hoped that by having a central location, the club could research local issues, such as the development of Willets Point as a possible research project for the organization.
The club will cover politics in an area which includes both the 22nd and 25th Assembly Districts, which are in the redistricting process.
Having been approved by Gov. George Pataki, the redistricting lines must survive lawsuits before becoming official.
McLaughlin, whose 25th A.D. covers downtown Flushing, will be running for re-election in a new area that has been created by redistricting. It extends from southern Whitestone all the way to Richmond Hill.
Most of McLaughlin’s current district lies within the proposed 22nd Assembly District, which is designed to be a predominantly Asian district.
The 22nd Assembly District, with its heart in the center of Flushing, already has captured the attention of several Asian political hopefuls.
McLaughlin said legislators in charge of redistricting consulted him about which district he preferred to run in.
The assemblyman decided to move into the largely new area due to the location of his home.
While the possibility of drawing the district lines to incorporate McLaughlin’s home into the proposed 22nd A.D. was raised, he said, such a plan would have meant McLaughlin’s home, although technically in the 22nd Assembly District, would have been surrounded by homes on three sides in the 25th Assembly District.
McLaughlin said he advised against such a scenario and legislators agreed with him.
The result of the move is that the vast majority of the voters in McLaughlin’s new district were not in his old district.
“Politically, it makes less sense to do what I did,” McLaughlin said.
Still, McLaughlin does have political experience in the area covered by his new district, since he served as a Democratic district leader in the 27th Assembly District in the area of Hillcrest from 1986 to 1996.
Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300 Ext. 141.