At her victory party in Bayside last night, Assemblywoman Grace Meng thanked her supporters, then briefly turned her attention towards her general election match-up against Republican Councilman Dan Halloran.
Meng called on Halloran to keep the contest focused on the issues, which was certainly not the case in a 2009 City Council race involving Halloran and many of the same people currently backing Meng.
“Let’s not discuss race or religion,” Meng said.
During the 2009 race between Halloran and Democrat Kevin Kim, the same campaign consultant that Meng is using (Multi-Media) did make Halloran’s pagan religious beliefs an issue, outing Halloran on the front paper of an affiliated newspaper, the Queens Tribune. Halloran ran a campaign that some also saw as pitting white voters against Asian ones, claiming in a mailer that Kim was controlled by Asian-American commercial developers. Halloran narrowly prevailed.
In a statement, Halloran spokesman Steve Stites said he doubted that Meng would actually stick to the issues.
“I’d say congratulations to Assemblywoman Meng, but it seems she knows she can’t win her next race on the issues,” Stites said. “New Yorkers can choose between Dan’s plan to create jobs and Assemblywoman Meng’s plan to increase spending.”
Halloran also has had some other personal and professional issues that could be in play, including a Department of Investigation report that found he exaggerated claims about a sanitation worker slowdown during the massive 2010 blizzard.
Halloran has said he would focus on rising gas prices and other pocketbook issues. Meng, meanwhile, tonight denounced the Tea Party’s efforts to repeal the federal health care overhaul and its “war on women.”
But tonight’s results indicate a possible uphill battle for Halloran. Though the turnout in a general election will be much higher – mitigating some of the effect the Asian-American vote in the low-turnout primary – Meng appears to have performed very well overall in different neighborhoods. With 89 percent of precincts reporting, Meng has 51 percent of the vote in the four-way race, according to WNYC.
Democratic Councilman Mark Weprin, who represents a portion of the congressional district, said that voters in the heavily Democratic area would be less apt to support Halloran for Congress — where he would vote for much of the Tea Party agenda — than for City Council.
“What Dan knows, and we have all found out, is that to meet Grace is to love Grace,” Weprin added. “Dan will not be able to steal Democratic votes because, like Dan, she was born in Queens — and is living the American dream just like Dan is.”
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