After a series of would-be Democratic presidential contenders dropped out of the race for the presidential nomination, the Queens Democratic organization got behind United States Senator John Kerry, who has forged to the lead since the Iowa caucuses last month. Kerry was endorsed by Queens Democratic Party Chairman Thomas Manton on Monday.
Kerry’s only real opponent for the nomination now is fellow U.S. Senator John Edwards of North Carolina. A week from today, on Super Tuesday, 10 states, New York among them, will have held their primary elections and the picture could change drastically.
There’s not much chance that Kerry will be in any danger a week from now, but there’s a strong possibility that Edwards will be out of contention if Kerry, as the polls predict, runs off with the lion’s share of the delegates being elected next Tuesday.
The Queens Democratic chairman and his party hopped on the Kerry bandwagon last Monday at a huge rally for the candidate at York College in Jamaica.
Amid the raucous cheering, with balloons flying and band music blaring, Manton formally endorsed the Dems’ expected standard bearer against President George W. Bush in the crucial November election.
In doing so, Manton was disengaging himself from his allegiance to the ill-fated original front-runner in the nomination contest, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean. Manton had agonized, as had many other Democrats, as Dean’s early promise gradually disappeared, beginning with the Iowa caucuses and ending finally in Wisconsin on February 7 where he suffered still another embarrassing loss to Kerry.
Several days afterward, Dean formally called an end to his campaign and Manton and the Queens Democrats were free to cut loose from him.
The early attachment to Dean by Manton and his cohorts and the lingering courtship between them cost the Queens Democrats dearly. It appears at this point that there is little chance that any Queens pols running in next Tuesday’s primary to become Dean delegates at the presidential convention this summer will be successful in that quest.
Kerry delegates should do very well and Edwards loyalists will pick up a share of those positions, but any candidates on the ballot listed as delegates for Dean—or for Senator Joseph Lieberman (Connecticut), Congressmember Richard Gephardt (Missouri), and retired Army General Wesley Clark, for that matter—will have little chance of being chosen for one of those positions at the convention in Boston.
In the primaries next Tuesday, the bulk of Kerry’s and Edwards’ delegates come from areas outside Queens in congressional districts shared with other boroughs.
Only the 6th Congressional District in southeast Queens has a full complement of Kerry delegate candidates, topped by Simone-Marie Meeks, the wife of Congressmember Gregory Meeks, a Kerry supporter. Congressmember Meeks’ district is the only one based entirely in Queens. The other five are made up of portions of Queens and other boroughs. In these shared districts, the great majority of Kerry and Edwards delegate candidates come from non-Queens areas of the district.
SURPRISE SPLITS: When delegate candidates were being chosen toward the end of last year, some curious divisions occurred between Democrats who are otherwise loyal party members.
Councilmember David Weprin (D–Hollis) was designated as a Dean delegate candidate by the regular Democratic organization while his brother, Mark, Assemblymember from Bayside, opted to seek a delegate position pledged to Lieberman.
As it happened, Lieberman quit the race several weeks before Dean, so Mark endorsed Kerry. Then when Manton and the regular organization endorsed Kerry last Monday at York College, Mark Weprin was on the New York Thruway on his way to Albany when we reached him to discuss all the strange goings-on.
He told us that since he endorsed Kerry, he had become a surrogate speaker for the candidate at various local functions. "And I’ve already cast an absentee ballot for Kerry in next week’s primary because I’ll be at work in Albany," he said.
As for him and brother Dave being back on the same side in the race for their party’s nomination, Mark Weprin said with some satisfaction, "Queens is now one big happy family again and we’ll soon be doing the important stuff to get Senator Kerry elected president."
He then had to excuse himself to join his passenger, Assemblymember Brian McLaughlin (D–Flushing) who was gassing up the car.
LIU AND YOUNG: Another surprise split occurred between City Councilmember John Liu (D–Flushing), who is running as a Dean delegate on next week’s ballot, and Ellen Young, his communications officer, who ran as a Wesley Clark delegate.
TIME FLIES DEPT.: Assemblymember Catherine Nolan has maintained her cheery and pleasant disposition during her 20 years in the state Assembly. Her achievements will be recognized on Thursday, March 11, at a celebration in her honor at Dazies Restaurant in Sunnyside, headed by former Congressmember Geraldine Ferraro. Tickets are $150 per person for the event which starts at 6 p.m. and is tendered by Friends of Catherine Nolan; headed by Lois Marbach, 718-229-4201.
Nolan has reached a prominent position in the Assembly, attested to by her chairmanship of the Labor Committee, her membership on the powerful and influential Ways and Means and Rules committees and her position as the Assembly representative on the MTA Capital planning Review Board, which gives her a great deal to say about where much of that panel’s construction funds get spent. Meanwhile, she remains active in local affairs in Ridgewood, Sunnyside and Woodside. Happy 20th, Cathy!
ANOTHER PROBLEM FOR JENNINGS: Councilmember Allan Jennings (D–Jamaica) is already facing sexual harrassment charges brought by two of his aides. Now a colleague, Councilmember Sara Gonzalez (D–Brooklyn) has reported to council leaders that earlier this month Jennings threatened her.
Gonzalez said that Jennings read her a passage from the Bible which ends, "the way of the ungodly shall perish." Jennings said it was his way of telling her that she had made remarks he claimed were disparaging to him at a council committee hearing.