With ducks quacking in the background and a forceful wind whipping the American flag and red, white and blue balloons, Republican City Councilman Dan Halloran of Whitestone announced his candidacy Monday for the 6th Congressional District seat, saying it’s time for a real change.
Speaking to supporters, party officials and the press at Bowne Park in Flushing, Halloran, 41, said he is in it to win it and “the campaign won’t be distorted by non-issues.”
The newly created 6th District extends from Flushing and Bayside to Maspeth, Middle Village and Glendale. Congressman Gary Ackerman (D-Queens and Nassau) was expected to run, but last week announced he would retire when his term expires in January.
Halloran, an attorney, was elected to the City Council in 2009. He succeeded now-state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), who made an unsuccessful bid that year to become the Democratic nominee for mayor.
The Republican says he is basing his campaign on three issues: to create jobs, reinforce support for Israel and pursue energy alternatives to reduce the price of gas. “I will work to create jobs and grow small businesses. I will fight for energy independence so our middle-class families pay less for gas at the pump,” Halloran said. “And I will steadfastly defend Israel, our nation’s most vital ally. Our middle class, our American values and our national security are at stake.”
Elaborating on protecting Israel, the councilman said President Obama wants to “take missiles off the table” in the future. “Our national defense and definitely Israel are at stake,” he said. “Israel deserves our full support. It’s the only democracy in the area.”
The rising high price of gas, he said, is due to the United States’ dependence on foreign oil. “We didn’t build the Keystone pipeline [that would transport crude oil from Canada to the United States] and we’ve frozen offshore drilling,” Halloran said. “It’s a threat not to look for alternative energy sources.”
The problem of high-cost gas also affects small business owners, the candidate said: “Their taxes are up, it’s a rigmarole to get permits and it is almost impossible to stay in business.”
He called himself an independent Republican and downplayed race and religious issues. “This is a diverse community,” he said. “There is no reason to be anything but an American.”
The Democrats endorsed Flushing Assemblywoman Grace Meng for the seat. She is being challenged in the June 26 primary by Fresh Meadows Assemblyman Rory Lancman and Middle Village Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley.
In separate statements, the three said they are ready to face Halloran.
“I look forward to a healthy discussion of the issues facing our Queens neighbors and am eager to hear how Councilman Halloran plans on justifying his party’s embrace of the Ryan-Boehner budget, which would gut vital social programs for seniors, the disabled and working families,” Meng said.
She added that she’s particularly interested to hear Halloran’s take on what she termed as recent partisan attacks on women’s access to healthcare.
Lancman focused his statement on the Republicans in Washington, not Halloran. “For eight years, the Republican Bush-Cheney agenda allowed Wall Street to run amok, stretched our armed forces to the limit, undermined a secure retirement by allowing employers to weaken pension protections and promoted some of the most anti-woman health policies in recent memory,” he said. “We’re not going back to the failed Bush-Cheney policies, which helped crush our economy, strain our military, threaten Social Security and put woman’s health at the mercy of others.”
Eric Yun, campaign spokesman for Crowley, offered the following: “Elizabeth Crowley is the only Democratic candidate in the 6th District who has fought and won tough general elections. The last thing New York needs is another vote for the House Republican majority and their agenda of cutting taxes for millionaires, dismantling Medicare and Social Security and attacking women’s rights.”
But the county Republicans are rejoicing in their selection of Halloran. Chairman Phil Ragusa, who attended Monday’s rally, said the decision to pick him was unanimous.
“We see Gary Ackerman’s retirement and the new congressional lines as presenting a great opportunity to elect another GOP Congress member right here in Queens,” Ragusa said.
Tom Long, chairman of the New York Conservative Party, also attended and said voters have a choice: “The Democrats are the status quo — electing a yes man or a Nancy Pelosi. Halloran is important for the people of the district.”
The Queens GOP is encouraged about his candidacy because, members say, the district covers large areas of middle-class voters who have a history of voting Republican. They pointed to former state Sen. Frank Padavan, who represented the Bayside area, former Councilman Mike Abel of College Point, former state Sen. Serfin Maltese of Glendale and former Councilmen Anthony Como and Dennis Gallagher, both of Middle Village.
The GOP also notes about 40 percent of the newly created district is now represented by Halloran in the City Council.
The Democrats point out that the area is about 37 percent Asian with a large Jewish population.