By Rich Bockmann
U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) handily warded off his three Democratic primary challengers Tuesday, making his ninth term representing southeast Queens all but assured.
With 86 percent of precincts reporting Tuesday night, the congressman had received 66 percent of the vote, according to the Associated Press.
The AP reported 11,843 Democrats voted in the new 5th Congressional District, which has nearly 240,000 active Democratic Party members — the most in Queens — and almost 23,000 active Republicans. The district covers southeast Queens and part of Nassau County.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to represent the people of the new 5th Congressional District in Washington,” Meeks said in a telephone interview after his landslide victory. “I look forward to working hard on their behalf.
Meeks’ campaign benefited from the endorsements of President Barack Obama and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), as well as close to $500,000 in campaign contributions, which were spent on fund-raising consulting, telephone, software-support and legal services, catering, travel, advertising and fund-raising event tickets, according to the Federal Election Commission.
The congressman said that despite his superior war chest, he did not take the competition lightly.
“I never take anything for granted and people had a choice, clearly. That’s what elections are all about,” he said.
Only one other primary contender, 29-year-old Rosedale resident and recent law school graduate Mike Scala, had raised the $5,000 contribution limit requiring filings with the FEC.
Scala, who was endorsed by the Rockaway Wave, received 12 percent of the vote and raised $5,807, spending his dollars on brochures and a voter phone list, according to FEC filings.
“I’m disappointed in the results, but I’m proud of what we accomplished with such little resources,” Scala said, acknowledging Meeks’ funding advantages. “Let’s be honest, the playing field is still lopsided. That’s one of the things I was campaigning on.”
Former City Councilman Allan Jennings, who ran uncontested on the Republican primary ticket as well and will face the congressman in the November general election, pulled in 13 percent of the vote.
Joseph Marthone received 10 percent of all votes.
Out of the three challengers for the seat, Jennings appeared to receive the most name recognition, thanks to his term on the Council when he represented the 28th District covering Jamaica, South Jamaica, South Ozone Park and Richmond Hill from 2001-05.
Neither Scala nor Marthone has held public office.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4574.