By Stephen Stirling
The campaigns for state Assemblywoman Ellen Young (D-Flushing) and her challenger, Grace Meng, have agreed not to pursue challenges to each other's petitions, virtually paving the way for both to appear on the ballot for September's Democratic primary.
While both campaigns initially filed objections to their opponent's petitions, Meng spokesman David Tobman said an agreement was reached between attorneys representing both the challenger and the Queens County Democratic Party, which has endorsed Young, to withdraw their complaints.
"It was their way of graciously acknowledging our good standing petitions," said Terrence Park, who is running for a district leader position on Meng's ticket.
The agreement comes shortly after both campaigns filed their contribution and expenditure reports for the last six months, showing that Meng has raised and spent more money than Young since Jan. 15.
Earlier this month, both candidates filed more than the required 500 signatures to gain a slot on the ballot for the Sept. 9 primary. Young filed more than 2,400 signatures, while Meng filed more than 5,000.
Tobman said neither campaign was interested in pursuing what can be a lengthy and expensive process of challenging each other's petitions, which can often lead to a candidate being thrown off the ballot.
"They would have had to disqualify 65 percent to 80 percent of the signatures, which just is not going to happen," Tobman said.
Two years ago, Meng was taken off the ballot after Young successfully challenged her residency status in the state Assembly district.
Two months ago, Meng announced her plans to take a second run at the state Assembly seat her father, Jimmy Meng, held before Young, joining forces with 2006 candidates Julia Harrison and Terrence Park, who will run for district leader positions on the same ticket.
Tobman said the agreement shows the validity of Meng's campaign and cautioned other politicians against staking their reputations on blindly endorsing the incumbent.
"If Ellen is counting on endorsements from other politicians to carry her over the top, I would warn other politicians to stay out of this race, because this could go either way," he said.
Young, who is recovering from a serious cycling accident, said she has not yet started to campaign in earnest because she is more focused on working for her constituents, which she views as her true case for re-election.
Young's campaign contributions report filed on July 15 reflected her sentiments. During the last six months, the assemblywoman has raised just $34,000 to Meng's nearly $90,000 in donations during the same time period.
Young, however, has spent just $8,139 during the same time period and has $234,885.63 on hand for her campaign, according to Campaign Finance Board records.
Meng has spent $58,205.45 on her campaign since January and has $147,373.33 on hand headed into the final months before the primary, state campaign finance records show. Meng's contribution report also shows that while she has raised a robust $65,000 from individual contributors, only eight of the 30 who donated to her campaign reside in the 22nd Assembly District, where she is running.
Tobman said he has approached the Young campaign about holding debates between the two candidates, but has not yet heard back.
Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at Sstirling@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.