Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) easily claimed victory in the Democratic primary Tuesday for the 5th Congressional District seat, racking up more than 67 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results from the Board of Elections.
Meeks triumphed over competitors Mike Scala, a recent law school graduate; Joseph Marthone, a small business owner; and Allan Jennings, a former city councilman.
The newly formed 5th Congressional District consists largely of Meeks’ old 6th Congressional District, which the lawmaker has represented since 1998.
Jennings came in second with 12.8 percent of the vote. Scala garnered 11.11 percent and Marthone rounded out the group with 8.9 percent. If there is no Republican challenger, and there isn’t one yet, Meeks will have secured the position with his primary win.
Meeks declared victory at around 11 p.m. at the Guy R. Brewer United Democratic Club in St. Albans and began by thanking his campaign volunteers and constituents.
“I’m really thankful from the bottom of my heart,” he said. “I tell everyone that I know — I always stand on someone’s shoulders. No one gets anyplace by themselves, and for you to trust in me and give me the opportunity to represent you in the halls of Congress, on the floor of the House of Representatives, is something that I don’t take lightly or for granted.”
Inside the the Democratic club the mood was light and celebratory, with people enjoying food and refreshments, but outside the sound of what could have been gunshots was heard at around 9:45 p.m. Asked if the noise could be fireworks, Jamaica activist Kevin Livingston said no. He also told the Chronicle he heard about 30 gunshots at around 9:15 p.m. and called the police.
There were about two dozen people in attendance at the club. Each had a different reason for supporting Meeks, but many touted his years of experience and an endorsement from President Obama as reasons why he is the best choice to represent the district.
“I think he understands the issues that are germane to his district,” said Jacques Leandre, who is running for City Council. “Although he may be in Washington for part of the time, he hasn’t lost touch with what’s happening on the ground level.”
Archie Spigner, a former City Councilman and the leader of the Guy R. Brewer United Democratic Club, said he knows Meeks personally and can attest to the fine quality of his character. “I have found him to be responsive and concerned about issues in the community,” Spigner said. “I think he has represented the district well. He’s earned our support.”
One person who said he has supported Meeks from the very beginning is Bryan Block, the chairman of Community Board 13. He proudly said he voted for Meeks on primary day. “The congressman has always been accessible to me,” Block said. “I’ve never had any problems with any of the votes he’s taken in Washington, and I support his position in favor of President Obama’s healthcare plan.”
Meeks said his immediate priorities would be to help get his fellow Queens Democrats on the state level win their primaries in September and to work on Obama’s relection campaign.
The 5th Congressional District includes most of Southeastern Queens, including the neighborhoods of Cambria Heights, Edgemere, Far Rockaway, Hollis, Jamaica, Laurelton, Richmond Hill, Queens Village, Rosedale, St. Albans, Springfield Gardens, South Ozone Park, the Rockaways and John F. Kennedy International Airport as well as parts of Nassau County.