Outside a public school in Flushing earlier this evening, Assemblywoman Grace Meng and about a dozen supporters shook hands with voters as Meng nervously awaited tonight’s results in the NY-6 race.
At least on the surface, things seem to be looking pretty good for her. A rival campaign operative told me that the population in Flushing, where Meng’s Asian-American base lies, is turning out at higher rates than the rest of the district. And that seemed to be borne out walking down Main St. in the neighborhood, where polling places were crowded and Meng signs seemed to hang from every storefront window.
I asked Meng at the campaign stop what she felt were the biggest moments of the three-month campaign that was an unexpected sprint following Rep. Gary Ackerman’s sudden retirement.
Surprisingly, Meng did not say the biggest moment was getting the Queens Democratic Party’s endorsement.
“My dad and I beat Queens County incumbents,” Meng said. “So receiving that endorsement doesn’t necessarily comfort me.”
Meng’s campaign got off to what she called a “rough start” early on, with union after union — and the Working Families Party as a whole — backing Assemblyman Rory Lancman. Then, Meng finally got her first nod from the powerful Hotel Trades Council, which overcame concerns about Meng accepting donations from non-union hotel developer Sam Chang.
She said that was the turning point of her campaign.
“Peter [Ward] and Josh [Gold] were really willing to sit down and have a substantial conversation,” Meng said, referring to HTC’s president and political director. “Not every labor union was willing to do that.”
Also on hand at the Meng campaign stop was political leadership of another key backer, the United Federation of Teachers, including political director Paul Egan. Assemblyman David Weprin shook hands with a few voters, while Ackerman himself eventually came by.
Ackerman said that Asian-American turnout would be the key to Meng becoming the first Asian-American elected to Congress.
“The whole thing that’s getting voters out is ethnic pride,” Ackerman said. “It’s not racism. It’s pride. It’s pride that this would be the first time this has ever happened.”
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