The surprise announcement Thursday night by Congressman Gary Ackerman that he is not going to run for re-election has brought out at least four potential candidates to replace him.
Jockeying for the Queens Democratic Party endorsement are Assemblymembers Grace Meng of Flushing and Rory Lancman of Fresh Meadows, and state Sen.Tony Avella of Bayside.
On the Republican side, City Councilman Dan Halloran of Whitestone has indicated he is interested in the position. In 2010, just three months into his council job, Halloran said he was seriously considering a run against Ackerman. He later decided against it, citing lack of financial support from the National Republican Campaign Committee.
Ackerman, 69, who is completing his 15th term in Congress, serves the 5th District, which includes Queens and Nassau County. In his surprise announcement, Ackerman told the media that he is healthy and that it’s time for a change. He indicated he may seek another career in international relations.
Meng, who is serving her second term in Albany, said Friday she is “seriously interested” in running for Congress and that it would be “a great opportunity for the Asian community and for a woman to represent the area.” Her name has been mentioned as a possible candidate for borough president next year.
Lancman has been in Albany since 2006. When proposed congressional redistricting maps were revealed, he made it clear he wanted to run. Ackerman’s district was moved entirely to Long Island, but two weeks ago he said he would move and run for the Queens seat.
A couple of hours before the congressman made his announcement, Lancman released a statement that for party unity he would not oppose Ackerman in a primary.
But Friday, the assemblyman said he “absolutely will seek the Democratic endorsement.” I have laid the groundwork,” Lancman said. “I live in the district and worked hard there.”
Avella is serving his first term as state senator, beating longtime Republican incumbent Frank Padavan. He previously served as a city councilman.
Avella said his name is being considered for Ackerman’s seat. “It’s always been a dream of mine to go to Washington, so of course I’m interested,” he said.
The potential candidates from both parties said they expected a decision from county officials early next week.
“Ackerman’s decision has thrown everything into a tizzy,” Halloran said.