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Queens Chronicle

Two of three groups didn’t endorse Weprin

Assemblyman’s boast on S. Asians a bit premature, unclear, they say

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Posted: Thursday, May 15, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 11:56 am, Thu May 22, 2014.

State Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows), facing a potential challenger of South Asian descent, last week touted the endorsements of three organizations representing residents who trace their lineage to or have immigrated from that part of the world.

But it turns out two of the three endorsements, announced in a late March press release from Weprin’s spokesman, were not real.

The Bangladesh American Public Affairs Front apparently has endorsed Weprin in his run for re-election, and not his possible opponent in the Democratic primary, Ali Najmi, an attorney from Glen Oaks. So too has a women’s group cited in the release.

But two other organizations touted in the statement say they did not make an endorsement.

One, the Alliance of South Asian American Labor, said in a Twitter post that it has not yet made an endorsement in the race but will do so after considering the candidates. It posted the tweet in response to a Queens Chronicle story last week about Najmi’s candidacy, in which Weprin touted his backing among the South Asian community.

The press release quotes Mazeeda Uddin, a leader of ASAAL, as saying that Weprin’s re-election would bring success to many people, as he will fight for women’s rights and human’s rights. Uddin’s statement concludes, “He is our future.”

The group could not be reached for comment for this story. Weprin’s spokesman, Eugene Noh, said he does not understand why the group would disavow what he termed “a resounding endorsement” from Uddin.

“I don’t know what the story is there,” Noh said.

The other endorsement-that-wasn’t allegedly came from the Sikh Cultural Society. The group’s president, Gurdev Singh Kang, was quoted in the Weprin press release as saying he is “very happy to support” Weprin’s re-election, because the assemblyman cares about the needs of the community, including minorities and is hardworking and honest.

“You are like a brother to our Sikh community,” Kang said in the announcement. “We give you our vote and support.”

Reached after last week’s story ran, Kang said that the Sikh Cultural Society cannot make endorsements because it is a religious organization. Kang said he personally backs Weprin, but did not intend for his endorsement to be mistaken for that of the group.

Like all legislative districts, the one Weprin represents, the 24th, was redrawn following the 2010 Census, to lines that took effect for the 2012 election. Running from Glen Oaks down to Briarwood and Richmond Hill, it now has a substantially larger share of residents of South Asian descent than it did before.

Some members of the South Asian community gathered in Jamaica earlier this week to claim they are not being represented in the district, or in the Queens Democratic Party as a whole.

Najmi declined to comment.

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