2006-05-03 / Political Page

Meng May Not Seek Re-election;

Nolan Club Sets Annual Dinner

Queens Democrats rarely have to fuss over Assembly elections since incumbents usually run for re-election and have no problem winning.

This year, however, there could be two openings in the Dem Assembly ranks, both in Flushing. Assemblymember Brian McLaughlin announced several months ago that he would not stand for re-election, and Assemblymember Jimmy Meng recently declared that he might not seek re-election because of problems with an unspecified chronic illness which has worsened in recent months, his daughter said.

Meng's daughter, Grace, 31, also announced that she is considering running for her father's seat if he bows out. She said a final decision will be made before the Democratic Party state committee meets in Buffalo on May 30 and 31 to pick the organization's slate for this year's elections.

Ms. Meng said that a pending investigation into vote fraud charges stemming from Jimmy Meng's 566vote victory in 2004 over Barry Grodenchik had nothing to do with Meng possibly not seeking re-election.

Jimmy Meng came to New York City from China in 1975 and settled in Flushing, where he set up a successful lumber yard business. He later served on the Small Business Advisory Council by appointment of Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and later helped to establish the Flushing Business Improvement District (BID) there.

Earlier this year, McLaughlin unexpectedly announced he would not seek re-election, saying he wanted to devote more time to his labor union duties as president of the 1.1-million New York City Central Labor Council, a coalition of labor unions and organizations.

Just as unexpectedly, a short while after his withdrawal from the Assembly race, the U.S. Attorney's office staged raids at McLaughlin's office as part of an investigation into allegedly fraudulent deals with several electrical businesses in Queens where McLaughlin was a player. There have been no further developments in the case since the raids took place and no indictments or arrests.

SPITZER HONOREE AT COUNTY DINNER: Queens Democratic Leader Thomas Manton announced that the party's gubernatorial hopeful, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, will be the honoree at the county organization's annual spring dinner-dance on Thursday, May 18 at 6 p.m. at Antun's, 96-43 Springfield Blvd., Queens Village. Tickets are $300 a head and a large crowd is expected.

SPITZER SPEAKER AT EAST QUEENS DEMS: New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, the leading Democrat in the race for governor, will address five local Democratic clubs in Eastern Queens at a meeting scheduled for 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 18 at the Bellerose Jewish Center, 254-04 Union Turnpike in Floral Park.

Assemblymember Mark Weprin (D-Little Neck) issued the invitation to Spitzer. Scheduled to attend are the Eleanor Roosevelt, Saul Weprin, Jefferson, County Line and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Democratic Clubs.

NOLAN CLUB'S ANNUAL DINNER: Plans are set for Assemblymember Catherine Nolan's Ridgewood Democratic Club's annual dinner on Saturday evening June 10 at Gottscheer Hall, 657 Fairview Ave., Ridgewood. Tickets are $75 per person. Checks should be sent to the club at 60-70 Putnam Ave., Ridgewood, N.Y. 11385. Ad deadline for the dinner journal is May 22.

Honorees are Pat Clune (Woman of the Year), Domingo Santos (Man of the Year), John J. Torpey (Labor), Herman Hochberg (Businessperson), Dianne R. Ballek (Community Service) and Luke Adams (Lifetime Achievement Award).

SUOZZI PASSES UP DEM CONVENTION: After being told that he would not be permitted to address the Democratic nominating convention unless he gets 25 percent of its vote, Thomas Suozzi has decided to skip the Democratic state committee conclave in Buffalo on May 30 and 31.

Instead, Suozzi, who's opposing frontrunner Eliot Spitzer for the Dem nomination will hold a rally in Downtown Buffalo during the convention.

State Democratic Chairman Assemblymember Denny Farrell said party rules specify that only those who get 25 percent of the vote for a given office are permitted to then address the convention. Previously, Farrell had said there was little chance that the party would assure the 25 percent of the vote for Suozzi, which it has done in the past to try to build party harmony.

But Farrell opted for the hardline position to prevent Suozzi from stirring up a hornet's nest with his talk of party reforms and slaps at Spitzer.

Farrell and party leaders also want to force Suozzi to use up time and money circulating petitions to get on the ballot and force a Spitzer/Suozzi primary. Suozzi will have to get 15,000 signatures, some in every part of the state, to get on the primary ballot.

CUOMO STAYS HOT: Meanwhile, Andrew Cuomo, who is leading the pack seeking the Democratic nomination for New York attorney general, picked up several endorsements from Democratic lawmakers in Manhattan, the home base of Mark Green, his closest opponent.

The endorsers were Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, state Senator Eric Schneiderman, Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal and Borough President Scott Stringer. Other candidates for attorney general are Assemblymember Richard Brodsky, Charlie King, Denise O'Donnell, a former U.S. Attorney, and Sean P. Maloney, a former Bill Clinton staffer.

There's a chance Cuomo could score a clean victory for the party designation at the convention and force the others to go the petition route to get on the primary ballot. Cuomo has lots of support among Democratic leaders and his other five opponents will likely split the vote and thereby possibly deny any single candidate to get the 25 percent of the vote to automatically qualify for the primary ballot.

FUNDRAISER: A fundraising event for Rory Lancman, Democratic candidate for the state Assembly seat being vacated by Brian McLaughlin, will be held at the Fame Diner, 176-19 Union Tpke., Hillcrest on Monday, May 15, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Lancman (D) is male district leader of the William Jefferson Clinton Democratic Club and Youth Committee chairperson at Community Board 8. For more information, call 718-591-6896 or e-mail contact@lancman.com.

LOTS OF ACTIVITY BY MAYOR TYPES: There was lots of activity last week by past, present and future mayors.

Ex-Mayor Rudy Giuliani announced a trip to Iowa, the first presidential primary state in the leadup to the 2008 election.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is fresh off a victory on the development of the Ground Zero site, signaling he's going forward with the huge West Side Manhattan development plan.

A possible future mayor, Congressmember Anthony Weiner (D-Queens/Brooklyn), shouted fourletter words at a Brooklyn state senator

with whom he disagreed on a proposed controversial NASCAR track in Staten Island.

Giuliani, who's being watched by every political prognosticator in the United States for signs that he's running for president in 2008, made the trip to Iowa, a conservative state, to familiarize voters with his face, voice and stand on issues and to help raise money for Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Nussle this past Monday.

Then on May 18, Giuliani will woo conservative voters in Georgia as he performs fundraiser duties again, this time for lieutenant governor candidate Ralph Reed, former Christian Coalition leader.

Building up conservative credentials would be helpful to Giuliani if he decides on a presidential run because he's stamped as a pro-choice, pro-gay rights, pro gun control type, which doesn't sit well with conservatives.

The incumbent mayor, who's on a roll since he started his second term having won the school construction funding fight in Albany, the Ground Zero tiff and new stadiums for the Mets and Yankees, will add to the major building boom he's already started as he gets the West Side rebuilding started. That means a healthy economy and more jobs.

Previously, Bloomberg also looked ahead to who might possibly succeed him in four years and listed Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Daniel Doctoroff.

Any one of this trio who Bloomberg decides to put his strategy team and his money behind could turn into a formidable mayoral contender overnight.

However, Kelly has said several times when mentioned as a possible mayoral candidate, that he is not interested in running.

Another possible future mayoral candidate, Weiner, got into a profanitylaced shouting match with state Senator Carl Kruger over the latter's attitude toward a Weiner staff member several weeks ago. Weiner said he wouldn't "tolerate him abusing my staff."

What probably added some vitriol to the congressman's remarks, however, is that Kruger strongly supports venerable star actor Paul Newman's proposal for the NASCAR race track on abandoned Floyd Bennett Field, a former small airfield in the Gateway Recreational Area, while Weiner just as strongly opposes it.

Will Weiner's salty language hurt his future political career? We doubt it. Use of profane language has become so common these days in movies and on television and by more people in our society that it doesn't arouse very strong opposition anymore. Also, many people will judge Weiner's choice of words as a sign of honesty in expressing Kruger's alleged disrespect of a Weiner aide.

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