The two leading Democratic candidates for the 6th Congressional District nomination traded major endorsements on Monday.
Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) the Democratic Party choice, picked up the endorsements of four prominent Democrats seeking the mayoral nomination in 2013, while Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) won the backing from locals of the Communications Workers of America.
Lancman also used the day before federal and state taxes were due to call for the elimination of tax breaks utilized by corporations and wealthy individuals.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Comptroller John Liu, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and 2009 Democratic mayoral nominee Bill Thompson all endorsed Meng at a press conference at City Hall.
“Grace Meng is a serious legislator with a clear, realistic vision for how our representatives in Washington should work together to address the serious problems we face: creating jobs, supporting and growing small business, and protecting and strengthening Social Security and Medicare,” Quinn said in a statement issued by Meng’s campaign on Monday, while de Blasio called her a champion of the middle class.
Liu said Meng has the personal and legislative experience to tackle the issues that will spring up in Washington, and Thompson said she has the ability to make the tough choices that are needed as Congress addresses topics like building the middle class, protecting seniors and promoting education.
The assemblywoman said she was honored to receive their endorsements.
“Each of these superb public officials has a vision for New York City that includes creating jobs for our residents, keeping the city affordable for the hardworking families that are its backbone, and protecting the safety net that allows our seniors and most vulnerable neighbors to live in dignity,” Meng said.
Lancman accepted the the CWA endorsement outside of the Verizon building on 70th Road in Forest Hills. Union officials welcomed the assemblyman to the site, where he joined Verizon workers on their picket line last summer during a contract dispute.
Pete Sikora, legislative and political director for the the CWA in the northeast, saidLancman has been a friend of labor. He said the assemblyman has worked hard to force workplace safety to the forefront in Albany.
“Several people have been with us when it was easy,” Sikora said. “Rory Lancman has been with us when it was hard.”
Lancman said while Verizon is embroiled in contract disputes with its workers, it did not pay any federal corporate taxes last year.
“In fact, they receive tax benefits,” Lancman said. “They pay negative taxes.”
Lancman used the day before tax day to push his support of the so-called Buffet Rule, legislation named for billionaire Warren Buffet that would eliminate many tax breaks for people who make more than $1 million. Lancman would eliminate the lower federal rate for capital gains, such as investment income and dividends, which are now taxed at 15 percent.
“That is why people like Mitt Romney can make $40 million over a few years and people who work here at Verizon pay almost double that rate,” he said.
Lancman said he would like all income — earned, capital gains and other sources — taxed at the same rate.
“It’s about fairness,” he said.
Lancman said he is not concerned that such changes to the tax structure would harm New York City and the state, which are heavily reliant on the banking and financial sectors.
“Inherent in that question is the idea that if we raise taxes, those people will leave New York,” he said. “Well, they haven’t. We increased taxes on the wealthy in the state and they paid a little more in taxes and still enjoy what being in New York has to offer.”
Lancman also dismissed Meng’s endorsements. “They are looking for the support of the Queens Democratic establishment,” he said. “They will back the Queens establishment’s candidate.”
Late last week, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village), who also is seeking the nomination, secured the support of the Mason Tenders Council District, which represents construction workers, hazardous material workers, waste and recycling handlers, building laborers and Catholic school teachers.
“Elizabeth Crowley has fought for workers’ rights throughout her entire career,” said Mike McGuire, political director for the mason tenders, in a statement issued by Crowley’s campaign. “She understands that people need safe workplaces, fair wages and secure retirement.”
Crowley said infrastructure, such as the work done by the mason tenders, “is one of the best ways to create good jobs with prevailing wages,” Crowley said. “Our communities are better because of the work they have done, and I am proud that the Mason Tenders have endorsed me for Congress.”
The three are vying with Jeff Gottlieb, Rpobert Mittman and Juan Sheng for the Democratic nomination in a primary on June 26.
The winner will take on Republican city Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) in the general election in November for the seat being vacated by Democrat Gary Ackerman.