By Mark Hallum
Since Tom Suozzi won the Democratic primary for Congress, the former Nassau County executive has been working to further bring elected officials who were formerly neutral in the five-way race for the primary over into his sphere of support. The Queens neighborhoods covered in the district are in the northeast and predominately Democrats.
A gathering was held at Clearview Golf Course in Bayside July 20 in which members of the City Council and state Assembly as well as Borough President Melinda Katz and her predecessor, Claire Shulman, voiced their support for Suozzi’s congressional run.
Topics discussed by speakers focused on the importance of replacing Steve Israel with a Democrat with a strong presence in Queens as well as the necessity to set a separate example to what was happening at the Republican National Convention, which was going on in Cleveland at the same time.
“I tried very hard during the primary to demonstrate that I want to be the Queens candidate. I’m going to do that even more so in the general election,” Suozzi said. “Nassau County has a 12,000 Democratic vote advantage, Queens, which is the smallest piece of the entire district, has a 27,000 Democratic vote advantage.”
Suozzi continued to say it would require unity among Queens Democrats to face up to the challenge of holding the congressional seat.
“It’s paramount that we elect this man to the U.S. Congress,” Councilman Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens) said. “The Republican House of Representatives, or Republican Congress, doesn’t understand the issues of urban America. To them, mass transit is two people in a car. We’ve got so many issues, we need our voice heard.”
“This is probably the most important election that we will ever experience in our lifetimes,” the 90-year-old Schulman said, referring to the events at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland with a diplomatic tone as “interesting,” but did not elaborate.
According to Melinda Katz, 48 percent of Suozzi’s primary vote came from Queens.
“Tom has always been a fighter for the right things,” formerly neutral Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) said. “Did anybody ever imagine in their worst dream that Donald Trump would be the Republican nominee? I mean, anything can happen and we really have to work hard between now and November. I know I’m committed to doing everything in my power to get Tom Suozzi elected, and I know everyone else here is as well.”
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall