U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Queens/L.I.) today announced that he will not seek re-election to the United States Congress.What's remarkable is that earlier this evening, Ackerman's main obstacle to re-election—a primary challenge from Assemblyman Rory Lancman—just came off the table. Lancman put out a statement saying that he didn't want to run against Ackerman, a fellow Democrat, calling him a "solid progressive" and giving Ackerman his endorsement. Clearly Lancman's folks weren't in close touch with Ackerman's, because I bet he sure wishes he could take back that press release!
On the eve of the Federal Circuit Court’s approval of Congressional district lines that were seen to be extraordinarily favorable to Ackerman, and with the primary-free backing of the Democratic Party virtually assured, Ackerman has informed his family, staff, friends and party leaders that he will not seek a 16th term of office.
“The residents of Queens and Long Island have honored me with their trust and support for the past 34 years, first as a New York State Senator, and for the past 15 terms as a Member of Congress,” said Ackerman. “I’ve been truly privileged to have had the opportunity to fight for the beliefs of my neighbors in both the State Capital and in the halls of Congress. During my years in Congress, it has been my pleasure to address the needs of thousands of individual constituents and to influence domestic and global policy while serving on the Financial and Foreign Affairs Committees in the House. I am most thankful for the opportunity I’ve had to serve my country and my community.”
Okay, so, it's a small stumble for Lancman, but I've gotta believe he'll get right back on his horse and run for this redrawn seat—as, I'd imagine, will plenty of other interested local politicos, particularly from the Asian-American community (the population here is now 39% Asian). Seeing as this district gave 63% of its vote to Barack Obama in 2008, the action in the race to succeed Ackerman will be largely confined to the Democratic side.
But I wonder if Republican Rep. Bob Turner, who announced just the other day that he'd run for Senate, might now change his mind. Turner's old 9th District got dismantled by the court, with the plurality of his constituents winding up in the 6th. (Indeed, Lancman's original goal was to run against Turner.) He wouldn't be a very good fit for this district, but without an incumbent to face in the general, this certainly couldn't be a worse opportunity than the impossible Senate contest. In any event, we'll certainly be learning more in the days to come.