Boro electeds ready to back Obama for prez

By Stephen Stirling

As Democrats around the country descended on Denver to nominate U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) as their presidential candidate this week, members of the Queens delegation were still playing a waiting game Tuesday night.

U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), who ran neck and neck with Obama for the nomination until June, had not officially released members of the New York delegation — who nearly unanimously backed her — as of Tuesday evening.

But U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside), a staunch Clinton supporter, said though he had not received the word from Clinton officially, he did not expect a political drama to unfold before an official vote was taken Wednesday evening.

“Hillary's going to speak to us and I think she's probably going to be very dynamic and adamant that we need to unify as a party,” Ackerman said. “It's over. We have to move on.”

Ackerman said it is a delicate issue, however, which may explain the delay.

“There are so many people that are so passionate about Hillary being the historic candidate that she was. There are a lot of people that were so strongly emotionally involved that their feelings were hurt. There's passion involved here.”

More than two dozen delegates from Queens are in Denver participating in the convention, according to the New York Democratic Party.

“It's a very proud moment when you walk around here and you look at the Queens delegation. It's like walking through the United Nations,” Ackerman said. “The Queens delegation is like no other.”

State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) said she believes Queens is ready to get behind Obama.

“I certainly hope so,” she said. “There really is a strong sense of unity here. [U.S. Sen.] John McCain [R-Ariz.] is doing a great job of bringing us all together.”

Stavisky co-hosted a listening session in Flushing last week with City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) and state Assemblywoman Ellen Young (D-Flushing) to hear their constituents' concerns about the country moving forward.

Similar sessions were held around the city after Obama asked that delegates from communities across the country do so as a means of developing the national party platform from the ground up.

Ackerman said though the party platform can often be ignored once a candidate is elected, the Queens community will not be disappointed if Obama is elected president.

“I think it will come through mostly because the things that are of great interest to them, in my humble view, are basically reflected in the attitudes of the Democratic Party platform,” he said.

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at Sstirling@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, ext. 138.

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