Both sides in the race for the 6th Congressional District say they are eager for a series of televised debates called for on Monday by City Councilman and GOP candidate (Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone).
The campaign of Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) said she is ready to go.
“I am running a substantive campaign based on issues that matter to New Yorkers,” Halloran said in a statement issued by his campaign. “If my opponent is doing the same, she’ll happily agree to debate me five times on television. If she won’t, New Yorkers have to ask themselves ‘what does Grace Meng have to hide?’”
Halloran said he would use the opportunity to inform voters of his plans for tax cuts, spending cuts and job creation. He said Meg has shown little yet but “recycled statements from liberal special interest groups.”
Austin Finan, a spokesman for Meng, wasn’t impressed.
“Assemblywoman Meng will gladly debate Dan Halloran and his support for the radical, ultraconservative Republican agenda, including his plans to privatize Social Security, pass the Ryan budget and continue the failed economic policies focused on supporting the wealthiest 1% of Americans.,” Finan said.
Meng (D-Flushing) was known to have an advantage in registration in theheavily-Democratic district. Now federal campaign finance disclosure forms show she also enjoys a huge financial lead.
She has outraised Halloran by a margin greater than 48-to-1, with a better than a 20-to-1 advantage in cash on hand at the end of the reporting period ending on June 30.
Finan said the assemblywoman does not apologize for that, and that she will raise what is required to win in November.
“There is no question we will outraise our opponent, which is a testament to the fact that Grace Meng’s message resonates with working middle class families of Queens.”
Both campaigns filed their July quarterly reports electronically on Sunday with the Federal Election Commission.
Meng’s reported total contributions of $913,535.10 swamps Halloran, whose campaign reported $18,915.
Meng’s report states that her campaign had cash on hand of $181,389.62 as of June 30, four days after she won a four-way primary that included Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows), Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) and Dr. Robert Mittman, a Bayside physician.
Halloran, running unopposed for the GOP, reported cash on hand of $8,962.43.
“Halloran 2012” lists outstanding debts of $15,500, while “Grace for New York” owed $279,370.83. Meng also has made two contributions to her campaign totalling $72,000.
Halloran spokesman Steven Stites said the councilman knew full well about the fundraising disadvantages before accepting the race.
“Dan is an outsider, independent , so he doesn’t have access to all of the inside special interest money that Meng has raised,” Stites said. “Dan has been out in the community. People are fed up with Grace Meng and the Democrats have their fingerprints all over that. People have had enough of that in this district ... Most of them are worse off than they were four years ago.”
He added that Halloran did not need to raise money for a primary, and that he also had to take some down time to recuperate from brain surgery in May.
“The fundraising will kick in,” he said.
The district, drawn up following Census-mandated redistricting, is made up largely of portions of the existing districts of Gary Ackerman (D-Queens and Long Island) and Bob Turner (R-Queens and Brooklyn). Meng was endorsed by the Queens Democratic leadership in March after Ackerman announced his intention to retire.
The new district is located entirely within Queens. The money chasm probably is not a surprise given the seemingly universal opinion that “New York 6” is about as blue as a district can get by two of the top independent political analysts in the country.
Both Larry Sabato from the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia and Stuart Rothenberg of the Washington, DC-based Rothenberg Political Report list the 6th District as a “safe Democratic.”
“We are very confident about our chances of winning in November,” Finan said. “And why shouldn’t we? Just look at grace Meng’s resounding primary victory in which voters across geographic and demographic lines overwhelmingly voted for her.”
Stites said pollsters at first had the same to say about Congressman Bob Turner, who last year upset Democrat David Weprin in a special election for the soon-to-be-extinct 9th District.
Both reports have also declared the districts of Steve Israel (D-Queens, Long Island) in the 3rd; Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) in the 5th; Nydia Velazquez (D-Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan) in the 7th; Carolyn Maloney (Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan) in the 12th and Joe Crowley (Queens) in the 14th to be safely in the hands of the incumbents. Democrat Hakeem Jeffries is also expected to cruise to victory in the open 8th District.
Nat Sillin, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee said in a telephone interview on Monday that they are not writing off New York.
“Under new redistricting in New York there are more vulnerable Democrats, and Republicans will be aggressively pursuing those seats to hold Democrats accountable this November,” Sillin said.
While sources said Meng is not likely to need an infusion of money or ground troops from the Democratic National Congressional Campaign Committee and Halloran unlikely to get either one from the GOP, both national parties are expected to fight for the new 11th District where incumbent Michael Grimm (R-Staten Island) faces Democrat Mark Murphy. Rothenberg rates the district as a toss-up/tilt Republican, while Sabato is calling it likely Republican.