In the packed Plum Restaurant in the Bayside neighborhood of Queens, Assemblywoman Grace Meng entered the room to the Black Eye Peas’ “Let’s get it started in here” (Let’s get into it! Yeah! Get stupid! Come on!) just after ten o’clock and was simply a rock star. Ms. Meng is beloved in Queens Democratic circles and those circles certainly turned out for her clamorous and joyous victory party. Declaring her congressional campaign’s success before the Associated Press did, she spent most of her speech thanking all of her volunteers, family members, supporters, opponents, and probably a few others tossed in there as well.
“It has been about we, certainly not me,” Ms. Meng said to begin her speech. “We. We, in this room. We in the neighborhoods won this important race. We won this victory together.”
And win the race she did, surprising expectations and securing an outright majority of the vote, a tough act considering her multiple credible primary opponents with strong labor support and electoral bases. And while Ms. Meng received very strong support in her own base in Flushing’s sizable Asian community, supporters and elected officials also constantly pointed to her impressively strong performance in other areas as well, a tribute to the forces that mobilized behind her candidacy.
“Thank you Congressman Joe Crowley,” she said to begin her list of thanks, causing the people in the room to burst into long, loud howls of support.
“Joe Crowley, our Queens Democratic organization chairman,” she continued, needing to pause for another loud burst. “You have been a tremendous rock in this campaign and I’m so grateful for your support. You’re a tall guy with broad shoulders and I’m lucky to be able to lean on them.”
Other individuals receiving particularly large amounts of cheering when their names were mentioned included outgoing Congressman Gary Ackerman, key labor supporters like the heads of the Hotel Trades Council and United Federation of Teachers, as well as Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the lone likely 2013 mayoral candidate spotted in the room.
After thanking supporter after supporter individually, Ms. Meng addressed her vanquished Democratic foes.
“I first want to say that I want to commend Rory Lancman and Liz Crowley and Bob Mittman for running mostly positive campaigns,” she said. “Rory and I have worked together well together in Albany and I respect him deeply. I’m thankful of all the time that Liz and I have got to spend together in the last few months. She holds the toughest title in the world, a working mom. And I’m proud to call her a friend.”
Framing the general election, she also discussed her Republican opponent, Councilman Dan Halloran.
“To my Republican opponent Dan Halloran I say this: Let’s run a campaign based on the issues,” she said, going on to frame the general election by labeling him as Tea Party extremist. “Let’s not discuss race or religion and not engage in smear tactics or implications.”
Considering how wild Mr. Halloran’s last race was, it’s possible political observers may be in for quite a ride yet.