Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) defeated Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) for the newly drawn 6th Congressional seat, becoming the first Asian American to represent New York in Congress.
The second-term Assemblywoman won by nearly 54,000 votes, defeating Halloran by a 36-point margin with all but one of the district’s 409 election precincts reporting.
Flanked by members of the Queens’ Democratic Party’s rank-and-file late Tuesday night, Meng called her victory an opportunity to set aside divisive politics and focusing on common goals. Halloran, who had yet to call it a loss, would eventually concede hours later.
“People ask me if I’m excited, if I’m happy,” Meng said in an interview the next morning. “I am. But we have a lot of work to do.”
The Congresswoman-elect took pains to thank her husband Wayne Kye and two sons, Tyler and Brandon. (Her doting hubbie developed a seemingly trademark cult following among campaign workers, with a reputation for exuberance.)
Halloran spent the day after his defeat back at work as a councilman, juggling continuing power outages in his district with preparing for a nor’easter bearing down on the region.
“I’m tired,” Halloran said, adding there was no break from work regardless of Election Day’s outcome. “That’s how this works. Either way, we go back to the business of being a councilman for this district.”
Halloran said Hurricane Sandy’s devastation pulled him away from the campaign for over a week, as well as shut down three of his fundraisers at a time when he was gaining momentum. It also gave President Obama a boost, which trickled down the ballot.
“[Sandy] had an impact on the race,” he said. “I don’t know how great of an impact, but it did a lot of things.”
Those problems were coupled with reportedly rampant issues with voting machines and ineptitude at polling sites.
“I don’t know what to make of the Board of Elections,” Halloran said.
Election Day had been filled with allegations of rule-breaking electioneering, with Halloran’s campaign claiming a translator was caught telling Korean voters to support Democratic candidates. The Councilman also pointed to failed ballot scanning machines, lackluster oversight and misinformed poll workers as persistent issues. He did not, however, blame his opponent for any of the issues.
Passing on the chance to point a finger remains unusual for a campaign that spent as much time in the mud as it did in the high peaks of policy talk. From accusations of campaign finance reports to a battle over whose internal polling was more accurate, the overall tone from both campaigns did not exactly meet high standards.
Both politicos regretted the ugly turns at times, wishing the contest avoided bickering.
“We tried to keep it on the issues,” Meng said. “I wish it had been more substantive at times.”
Halloran agreed, saying, “I think there are legitimate criticisms people can make about both our campaigns.”
The councilman has assumed a “back to work” ethos, facing down what was looking like a long, rough winter and continued battles with Con Edison. He said he fully intends to seek re-election for his council seat in 2013.
Meng had fielded calls from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), and is planning on meeting with members of the community to get a fine-tuned sense of the district’s priorities.