10:31 am Mar. 23, 2012
City Councilwoman Liz Crowley launched her congressional campaign yesterday afternoon, saying she hoped to become the first woman elected to Congress in Queens since Geraldine Ferraro.
Dressed in a purple suit, Crowley stood in front of the Unisphere at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park with her two school-age sons on either side of her. The 34-year-old councilwoman said she was entering the race for Congress "with the support of my family."
Which was mostly true.
Crowley's cousin is the Queens Democratic leader, Rep. Joe Crowley, and he is supporting a different candidate in the race, Assemblywoman Grace Meng. A third Democratic candidate, Assemblyman Rory Lancman, also announced his bid earlier this week.
The newly drawn 6th congressional district, which is wide open after the announced retirement of longtime congressman Gary Ackerman, is based in central Queens, and about 40 percent of its population Asian. That should give Meng, who stands to become the first Asian-American member of Congress elected in New York, a significant advantage.
Crowley, in her announcement speech, positioned herself as a pioneering candidate also.
"In 2008, with your support, I became the first female and the first Democrat elected to the City Council district 30," she said. "And with your support, again, I can become the first female from Queens since Geraldine Ferraro was elected to Congress."
Asked what voters should take from the fact that her cousin wasn't supporting her, Crowley said he wasn't the only one who made the county organization's decision.
"It's not one person, it's an organization," she said. "They come together and they make a decision."
Crowley ended the press conference immediately after being asked the question about her cousin.
Her sister, Claire Crowley, hung around afterward, as did another supporter, 71-year-old Irene Mulhall of Little Neck.
I asked what they thought of one Crowley not supporting the other Crowley.
"This is really good," said Mulhall. "It shows that she's an independent person. She's not controlled by anybody. And I think that's a plus for her."
"If he did put her forward, [voters] would probably say it's favoritism," said Liz's sister Claire.
She also said that if "Joe Crowley goes in to vote, if this was his district, which it's not, he would vote for his cousin. I think every cousin of hers, or sibling, that lives in the district would support her 100 percent."
Claire said the dueling campaigns wouldn't cause much of a problem within the family.
"Joe and Liz are great friends and great cousins," she said.