5:02 pm Apr. 10, 2012
Grace Meng's congressional campaign spokesman confirmed that an affiliated consultant spoke with another candidate to encourage him to enter her primary.
The move, according to rival candidate Rory Lancman, was an attempt to recruit a Jewish candidate into the race in order to split the Jewish vote.
Meng's spokesman Michael Tobman said the conversation between consultant Michael Nussbaum and would-be candidate Matthew Silverstein was casual and unserious.
Lancman called on Meng to fire Nussbaum, and said her campaign "has been caught red-handed in one of the most malicious schemes any of us have ever seen."
Confirmation of Nussbaum's talk with Silverstein comes one day after another Jewish Democrat, Jeffrety Gottlieb, entered the race. Gottlieb, a longtime a Board of Elections employee and county committee member, had up until last week helped gather signatures for Meng. A spokesman for Gottlieb declined to explain what convinced Gottlieb to enter the race after helping Meng.
Lancman denounced Gottlieb's entrance into the race as a concerted effort to "deceive Jewish voters" that was "orchestrated by the Queens Democratic Machine."
Tobman, in turn, attacked Lancman for his rhetoric about an organized effort to sink him.
"The Lancman campaign's selective outrage is itself outrageous," Tobman said in a statement. And "just a few weeks ago he was hoping for the Queens County Democratic Party endorsement, the same group he now attacks and disparages."
Actually, Lancman's outrage isn't all that outrageous; this effort to find another Jewish candidate is a cynical trick, and he's perfectly within his rights to say so. He clearly figures that a decent number of the district's Jewish voters will be angry about the trick, and will respond by showing up to support him on primary day, which may in fact turn out to be the case.
But it's worth noting that the congressional primaries are taking place earlier than usual, on June 26, and that they will be the only races on the ballot that day. So the primary voters who bother to show up are very likely to be well-informed about their choices, and less prone to vote for a fakey candidate who happens to have a Jewish surname.
In which case one has to wonder where the point of diminishing returns is for Lancman, who at the moment is doing an incredibly good job drawing attention to a scheme that will likely be as inconsequential as it is sordid.
Meng's adviser, Michael Nussbaum, suggested Matt Silverstein would have an easier shot running for Congress than any other office. A Meng spokesman said the conversation was not serious. [Chris Bragg]
Lancman's campaign manager said Meng should fire Nussbaum because the incident shows her campaign was trying to recruit a Jewish stalking horse. [Twitter]
The head of the Queens County Democratic Organization, Rep. Joe. Crowley, did not denounce the idea of using a stalking-horse candidate. [Colin Campbell]
Fidler is optimistic. [Colin Campbell]
The head of a national teachers' union tweets what a pro-kid agenda really means. [Randi Weingarten]
Tom Zambito and Melissa Grace were let go from the Daily News. [Joe Pompeo]
Rangel warns about people who "jump the gun." [Youtube]