Four hopefuls file to get on ballot for Queens congressional seat

Four hopefuls file to get on ballot for Queens congressional seat
By Joe Anuta

By Monday afternoon, only the four candidates who scored major-league endorsements so far in the race for the Queens congressional seat had filed their petitions with the city to appear on the ballot, but anyone else eyeing the seat had until midnight to do the same.

State Assemblymembers Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) filed their petition with the city Board of Elections Monday afternoon, as had City Councilmembers Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) and Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone).

The board does not keep track of how many signatures each candidate garnered, but politcal operatives suggested that each would get several times the roughly 900 that are required.

At around 7 p.m., other candidates who had reportedly been collecting signatures had not yet filed with the board.

Last week, the entrance of Board of Elections employee Jeff Gottlieb into the race put Lancman on the offensive when he accused Gottlieb of being a plant by the Meng camgpaign to siphon off the Jewish vote.

Lancman, who called Gottlieb a “party hack,” said in a recent interview that he did not believe he had overreacted to Gottlieb’s run.

“I think the Gottlieb Silverstein scam that the Meng campaign perpetrated has blown up in their faces,” he said, referring to the fact that Michael Nussbaum — owner of the company running Meng’s campaign and a publisher at the Queens Tribune — admitted to approaching Democratic State Committeeman Matthew Silverstein to run in the race. Lancman contends that after Silverstein turned him down, Nussbaum went to Gottlieb. Meng’s campaign spokesman Michael Tobman said Nussbaum approached Silverstein in jest and that the campaign had nothing to do with Gottlieb’s entrance into the race.

On Saturday, the New York Post reported that Gottlieb was charged with arson in the 1970s for setting his apartment on fire with the help of a gas can, according to the New York Post. Gottlieb eventually pleaded guilty to lesser charges and spent time at an upstate psychiatric hospital, the Post reported.

Gottlieb’s campaign manager Jay Golub could not be reached for comment, but Lancman said in an interview: “His fake campaign is going up in flames.”

Halloran has remained largely quiet, since no one has emerged to challenge him in a primary after he was endorsed by the Queens County Republican Party last month.

The three Democratic candidates who had filed with the board by Monday afternoon had also been picking up more endorsements throughout the week.

Grace Meng was endorsed by four mayoral hopefuls Monday morning, getting the nod from Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), City Comptroller John Liu, Public Advocate Bill deBlasio and former City Comptroller Bill Thompson.

She also was warmly welcomed by the Flushing Chinese Business Association, and prominent Queens business people last week. Peter Tu, president of the association, said while the nonprofit cannot technically endorse candidates, Meng would be the best person for the job in Washington.

“She can be the best bridge to help the Asian community, to help the city departments understand the Asian community and to educate the Asian people to follow the laws in this country,” he said.

Meng also captured the Hotel Trades Council endorsement.

Lancman picked up several endorsements as well, including the Communication Workers of America nod Monday.

“When it comes to leading on the issues that working New Yorkers care about, Rory Lancman is the clear choice in this important election,” said Chis Shelton, vice president of the union’s District 1.

Also on Monday, the Mason Tenders District Council threw its support behind Crowley.

“Elizabeth Crowley has fought for workers’ rights throughout her entire career,” said the union’s political director, Mike McGuire. “She understands that people deserve safe workplaces, fair wages and a secure retirement.”

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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