Last year, Assemblyman David Weprin lost a Congressional race in a heavily Democratic district when former Mayor Ed Koch backed his Republican opponent, saying that it would send a message to the Obama administration about Jews’ disappointment over his Middle East policy.
Now that Rory Lancman is running for Congress in a district with many of the same voters, he is taking pains to make sure that he doesn’t get “Weprin’d.”
In an interview with Fred Dicker today, the Assemblyman was asked if he supports Mr. Obama’s Middle East policy. He said he does not, and he name-dropped Mr. Koch to boot.
“I haven’t been pleased or satisfied with his polices or views on Israel, ” Mr. Lancman responded. “In fact, when President Obama was first running, Ed Koch and I wrote an op-ed challenging the Democratic Party–but really then-Senator Obama to get tougher on Iran because we were concerned about Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon four years ago.”
Fellow Assembly member Grace Meng and City Councilwoman Liz Crowley are also running for the seat made available due to the retirement of Gary Ackerman. As we have noted before, Asians make up a plurality of the district, but whites have a sizeable advantage on the number of likely Democratic voters, and a large number of those white voters are Jewish.
Mr. Lancman is the only Jewish candidate among the three, and he was quick to point out to Mr. Dicker that, “I have challenged the president on Israel, whether its statements he’s made about the ’67 borders, or his unproductive and unfair focus on Jewish settlements as being an obstacle to the peace process.”
“I have no problem whatsoever pushing the president on Israel or any other issue,” he added. “Every body who knows me knows that I am an advocate for the people I represent and not for my party and not for the leaders of my party.”
Mr. Lancman was also asked about two other sticky issues for Democrats–NYPD’s spying of Muslims, and the Obama administration’s efforts to mandate contraceptive coverage from religious employers.
The first question is a tricky issue for Mr. Lancman, because as he noted earlier to Mr. Dicker, the district he hopes to represent in Congress is one of the most diverse in the country and has a sizeable Muslim population. Mr. Lancman said that the NYPD needs to do everything in its power to keep New Yorkers safe, but suggested that some of their actions have gone too far and would risk alienating some Muslim allies.
As for the second question, he refused to budge, despite Mr. Dicker’s needling, and said that all employers should be required to offer contraceptive coverage.
You can listen to the full audio here.