State Sen. Malcolm Smith, arrested and charged last week as part of a wide-ranging bribery scandal, looks like he could have electoral troubles in addition to his legal woes. Jason Hilliard, a long-time staffer to Congressman Gregory Meeks, is actively mulling a challenge to Mr. Smith, a source close to Hilliard told Politicker.
While Mr. Hilliard declined to discuss his bid, the source said he had been considering the challenge even before last week’s indictment, as he wanted to “enact a more progressive agenda” than Mr. Smith had been advocating. The source addded that Mr. Hilliard “based [the] decision … to serve as a champion” on issues like the standard of living in southeastern Queens.
At the end of last week, Queens Congressman Gregory Meeks announced he would officially represent the United States at former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’s funeral, a country he’s dealt with in the past as a senior member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Politicker caught up with Mr. Meeks to ask how the Latin America trip went before a Monday morning press conference announcing new flood insurance legislation in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
“I thought that the trip was very good,” Mr. Meeks replied. “I was welcomed there by both members of the opposition as well as people close to President Chávez. As you know, I got to know President Chávez quite well. I think that though controversial–there were many things that I disagreed with–that he did have his heart on the poor. When you look at the thousands upon thousands of people that were in the streets mourning his death, Venezuela is clearly a country that is in mourning.”
Don't Call it a Comeback
Former Congressman Anthony Weiner has kept a relatively low profile in the year-and-change since a scandal over lewd Twitter messages led to his resignation, but last week, he took to the pages of the New York Daily News to write an op-ed with Congressman Gregory Meeks highlighting the post-Sandy needs of the Rockaways. Mr. Weiner’s editorial struck many observers as a “step back onto the political stage,” but Mr. Meeks told Politicker he doesn’t think a return to the public eye was part of his ex-colleague’s motivations for writing the editorial.
President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address is about an hour away and, once again, lawmakers are choosing bipartisan seatmates for the speech. The Politicker reached out to several of the members of New York’s Congressional delegation and found out who they’ll be sitting with at tonight’s event.
debt ceiling debate
Queens Congressman Gregory Meeks told The Politicker this morning that he was a reluctant vote to raise the debt ceiling, but that ultimately enough concessions were made by House Republicans to convince him to sign on.
“In order to get this done right, we very definitely had to have some revenue,” he said. “But if we are going to have a compromise, and there will be no revenue, then entitlements should not be cut, and as of right now entitlements have not been cut.”