Encouraged by a groundswell of support from local Republicans and Tea Party activists, Councilmember Dan Halloran is strongly considering a run against Representative Gary Ackerman.
The match-up of the freshman Republican, who has styled himself as an outspoken advocate for limited government, individual liberty and constitutionalism, against the 14-term Democrat described by Michael Barone as acerbic but humorous and a pungent speaker would be a marquee battle of contrasts.
Washington Republicans have reportedly encouraged Halloran to run. Ackerman, who shouted “Yes we did” during President Obama’s signing ceremony of the historic health reform bill, is viewed as potentially vulnerable due to his high profile support of the legislation.
Earlier this year, the Congressmember sent out a fundraising letter to Democrats to solicit donations for his re-election, citing the GOP’s capture of two City Council seats within his district and claiming Republicans had their sights set on him next.
The fact that much of Ackerman’s district is represented by Republicans in state and local office by State Senator Frank Padavan and Councilmembers Peter Koo and Halloran indicates that a Republican can win in the district which includes parts of northwest Nassau County too.
The district is strongly Democratic, with 55 percent of registered voters Democrats, 20 percent Republicans and 24 percent independents. However, that alone should not dissuade Halloran; after all, the Council seat he represents is 51 percent Democratic, and Koo’s district is around 60 percent Democratic. Halloran has demonstrated an ability to win over Democratic votes necessary for victory.
Blowback against the President’s party, always a factor in midterm elections, might be especially great in Ackerman’s district.
Ackerman has increased his district profile and has over $1 million in his campaign war chest. But the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will be stretched to the max trying to defend their 40 most vulnerable seats to hold onto their House majority, meaning Ackerman will get less national support if he’s in a tough fight.
As an incumbent office-holder, Halloran has the benefit of name recognition and constituent services. He is a proven vote-getter in the district who would certainly give Ackerman a run for his money. Halloran will not have to give up his Council seat should he run for Congress, which means he has nothing to lose by running and can use his candidacy as a platform to bring attention to the issues he has so forcefully articulated.
Daniel Egers serves on the staff of Councilmember Dan Halloran and is executive director of the Queens County Republican Party and the views expressed in this column are his own.