Elizabeth Crowley said it was not by accident that she chose the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows Park as the backdrop for the rally announcing the formal start of her campaign for Congress.
“This was built as a symbol of our country’s diversity and strength,” Crowley said.
She said her life and professional experiences, as well as her middle-class roots make her the candidate who would best represent a Congressional district as diverse as the new 6th.
Flanked by her teenage sons, Dennis and Owen, last Thurday, the councilwoman said she would be a champion for women’s issues and education; for programs such as Social Security and Medicare; that she is a strong supporter of infrastructure, and that her post on the council’s Fire and Criminal Justice Services Committee give her insight into areas such as terrorism and public safety.
Crowley said, for example, that upon the death of her father, her mother relied on Social Security.
“And as a mother of two boys in high school, I worry about how I am going to pay for their college education,” she said.
Crowley (D-Middle Village), a city councilwoman since 2009, is running against Assemblywoman Grace Meng, (D-Flushing) and Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) for the seat in the newly-created 6th Congressional District.
Incumbent Democrat Gary Ackerman announced that he will not run for re-election after 15 terms.
The primary is June 26, with the winner to take on City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) in November.
Meng has the party endorsement, even though Crowley’s cousin, Congressman Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx) serves as the Queens County Democratic chairman.
“The committee is more than one person,” the councilwoman said. “The purpose of a Democratic primary is to let the voters pick the candidate they want.”
“And I love my cousin,” she said.
Meng, with the party endorsement, likely will have no trouble securing funds, and Lancman has been building a war chest of his own in anticipation of a run against Republican Congressman Bob Turner, who chose to run for the U.S. Senate when his district was realigned out of existence.
Crowley said she likes Meng and works well with her, and said the same of Lancman. And she said fundraising should not be a problem.
“People always talk about money,” Crowley said. “It’s about who comes out to vote.”
Crowley and campaign spokesman Eric Yun said the councilwoman expects to draw good support from organized labor, though they did not announce any direct endorsements.
Yun said Crowley will not be outflanked by Lancman, who has made his support of Israel and affordable higher education major issues in his campaign, saying that Crowley has strong records on both fronts.
“As the campaign progresses, you’ll see distinctions,” he said.
Yun also said Crowley is running to win.
He eschewed talk that she is in the race as a stalking horse designed to siphon some of the white vote away from Lancman, thus paving the way for Meng.
Crowley said Yun is on leave from his position as spokesman for her council office, but declined to comment on the status of at least three other current or recent council staffers at the event.
The staffers also declined to comment, though Yun said all were either on leave from their council duties, as he is, or attending the rally on comp time.
Crowley’s campaign is being managed by Avi Fink, once a staffer for former Congressman Anthony Weiner.
Fink, who had been chief of staff for state Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Whitestone), resigned from the post last week a day before Crowley’s announcement.
Stavisky already had come out in favor of Meng, and a spokesman for the senator said Meng still has her unequivocal support for the nomination.
A decision on Fink’s replacement on Stavisky’s staff is expected soon.