With the possibility that Assemblywoman Grace Meng’s Flushing seat will become vacant if she’s elected to Congress or if she wins the June 26 Democratic primary but loses the general election, candidates from both parties are already starting to line up to fill it.
Last week, the Queens Democratic Party endorsed Ron Kim, 33, as its candidate in the newly created 40th District, the redrawn version of the existing 22nd. On Thursday, Sunny Hahn, 60, announced that she is running as a Republican for the seat. The Queens Republicans have not endorsed a candidate yet.
Although the Democrats did not immediately send out an official announcement, Michael Reich, the party’s executive secretary, said Kim was selected because of his vast background in goverment work.
Kim, who works for the Parkside Group, a political consulting and lobbying firm, said Friday he was taking a leave of absence during the campaign. He previously worked in city and state government.
In City Hall, he worked for the Department of Small Business Services and as a policy analyst for the City Council. He was appointed by former Gov. Eliot Spitzer in 2007 as his regional representative in the mayor’s office.
Kim ran in 2009 for then-Councilman John Liu’s seat, when the latter successfully ran for city comptroller. He pulled out of the race after a month, citing party unity. There were six other Democratic candidates.
Hahn, an activist in Flushing’s Korean community, had hoped to run for the 16th Senatorial seat as a Republican, but was not endorsed by the county GOP, which selected J.D. Kim, a Flushing lawyer. He will face Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) in November.
Hahn announced her run outside the historic Bowne House, which is considered the cradle of religious freedom in the country. Farmer John Bowne allowed Quakers to meet at his home in the mid-1600s, defying the Dutch governor. She pointed to the shrine, saying she wants to build on “the glorious past of Flushing” and to put it on the map.
Hahn said she will try to weigh the merits of proposed state projects — of what type she did not say — on what will benefit the community the most and “what is moral, ethical and rational.”
Born in South Korea, she moved to the United States at the age of 27, living in Boston, Washington, DC and Hawaii before moving to New York in 1986. She worked for the National Women’s Political Caucus and later the Commission on Human Rights in New York.
“I have lived in the East and the West,” she said. “This country is still the greatest.”
She urged immigrants to become more involved and to perform community service. “Immigrants have to be involved with loving America more than the country they came from,” the candidate said.
She also rallied residents to start dreaming again. “It will push us forward to the future,” Hahn added.
Wearing a jeweled American flag pin and standing in front of Old Glory, the candidate said she doesn’t have much expectation of support from the county GOP. She promised to use her own money to help finance her campaign and to take small donations from individuals. If she wins the primary, Hahn expects the Korean community will support her with money.
Hank Yeh, 60, a management consultant who is affiliated with the Chinese American Voters Association and the Northeast Queens Republican Club, announced Monday he will run for the seat.
Phil Gim, 60, another Republican, also announced his candidacy Monday. He is a small business consultant and former postal worker.