The race is already starting for a congressional district that doesn’t officially exist yet.
In the past week, Rep. Gary Ackerman (D- Queens) and State Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) took their case to the grassroots.
Ackerman spoke to possible new constituents at the Forest Hills Civic Association on Tuesday, March 13, and Lancman introduced himself to the Juniper Park Civic Association (JPCA) on Thursday, March 8.
They are vying for the proposed 6th Congressional District that stretches from Middle Village to Flushing.
If the lines drawn by a judicial appointee hold, it will be the only congressional district entirely within Queens, and they both want it.
The judicial panel set to approve the lines wants to have a decision by Tuesday, which is when candidates are allowed to start petitioning.
But neither Lancman or Ackerman waited for the final lines to announce they wanted the seat. They both said they intended to run in the district after the draft map was released last week.
Ackerman is the incumbent in the 6th, but the whole district could shift to the west, out of Nassau County and into Glendale, Maspeth, Forest Hills and the surrounding area. So, he has new voters to meet.
“I just wanted to show my face and reintroduce myself,” Ackerman said at the civic meeting. “I have a lot of friends here.”
Through his 30-year term in congress, Ackerman represented parts of Forest Hills, but the area was moved to the 9th District held by Congressman Bob Turner.
“I know this neighborhood very, very well,”Ackerman said. “I’ve represented this community for a long time.”
Lancman in the meantime worked on building inroads even further west at the JPCA.
“All the things that you’re talking about tonight, public safety or traffic, these are things that I did for many many years before I got elected, and that’s really why I ran for office—to represent my neighborhood and the neighborhood in that district as best I can,” Lancman told the crowd.
The Assemblyman talked about how he grew up in civic associations around his home near St. John’s University in Hillcrest.
He said the single-family homes and welcoming streets in his current district would make a transition to representing the Middle Village area an easy one.
“If that opportunity does present itself, it really would be a great honor to represent this neighborhood because sitting here tonight, I could have closed my eyes and I could have been sitting in the neighborhood where I grew up and have had the pleasure to represent for these past five years.”
Lancman originally wanted to run in 2013 for the 9th Congressional District that’s now at risk of being eliminated.
He previously said he wanted to run even before that in last year’s special election for that seat, but his party turned him down.
Now, he’s set up a possible Democratic primary fight for the 6th District.
When asked about it after the Forest Hills Civic meeting, Ackerman seemed unfazed by the idea.
“Hey, it’s America,” he said. “He’s a fine young man. He can do what he wants.”
By Jeremiah Dobruck