Queens Democrat Grace Meng became the first Asian-American from New York to be elected to Congress when she defeated Republican Councilman Dan Halloran on Tuesday, but after her victory, she focused on her status as a female elected official rather than her background. In a speech before a room full of supporters and local officials at the Sheraton LaGuardia East last night, Ms. Meng emphasized the importance of electing women to government office and voiced her support for the middle class rather than trumpeting her win as a watershed moment for Asian-Americans.
John Scandalios, the owner of the comic book store Crazy Scondo’s, says he’s committed to running as a Democrat in Peter Koo’s Council District in Northeast Queens.
Despite Mr. Koo’s personal wealth, Mr. Scandalios pledged to spend no more than $1,000 on the race. “My budget is $999, because there’s no reason for me to spend any more than that,” he said in an interview with Politicker last night. “I don’t like receiving … 50 different mailings from ten different candidates … I find it a nuisance.”
Mr. Scandalios, a former engineer who worked on the operating system for the Trident II Submarine, said he found his way into the comic book business through a love of baseball cards a couple decades ago and intends to use his experience running a small business in the City Council.
Councilman Peter Koo, who recently switched parties to the Democratic Party, said the media’s treatment of New York City Comptroller John Liu has been biased and wrong in a recent interview with Roberto Perez.
“As an Asian-American politician, I think it’s really unfair,” he said. “I think the media, they ganged up against him.”
Varying theories have surfaced for why Councilman Peter Koo changed his registration from Republican to Democratic this afternoon. These explanations range from the cynical to the optimistic. A New York Timessource believed as a Democrat, Councilman Koo “could get more city money for his district” and “increase his odds of becoming a Council committee chairman.” However, Queens Democratic Chairman Joe Crowley was more circumspect in how he phrased it.
“I think what Peter realizes, in many respects, it is dominated by Democrats, the City Council, and having more say, more input for his constituency is also important,” he said. And while he declined to deliberately speculate on whether Mr. Koo would head an important Council committee, he did say he was “sure that the Council and the Speaker will find a way to utilize Peter’s talents.”
Others have speculated that the Queens Republican Party simply didn’t do enough to keep Mr. Koo in the party, and that the openly hostile dispute between internal factions made him feel unwelcome. In an interview last week, Councilman Eric Ulrich echoed these thoughts, saying his colleague “did not feel appreciated by the Queens Republican Party and infighting in the county organization made him increasingly uncomfortable.”
Councilman Peter Koo was surrounded by a throng of Queens Democrats and elected officials as he announced his party switch this afternoon, and it would be difficult to imagine a more overwhelmingly effusive crowd.
“We want to give a great Queens Democratic welcome to the newest member of … the City Council from Queens as a Democrat: Councilman Peter Koo,” Queens Democratic Chair Joe Crowley began his statement, to applause of the smiling Democrats surrounding the converted Councilman.
“Peter joining this effort is a real boom to our party, and I think it’s great for Flushing in particular. As John Liu, whom I’m going to introduce in a moment, points out, this is the Year of the Dragon. This is a very fortuitous year. This is a very important, jubilant year for the Chinese-American community. Peter, you’re making it that much more jubilant for us.”
The New York Times reported this afternoon that Queens Councilman Peter Koo will switch his registration to the Democratic party, reducing the number of Republicans in the City Council to four. In an interview with The Politicker, Mr. Koo’s Queens colleague, GOP Councilman Eric Ulrich, lamented what he called “major blow” to the party and placed substantial blame on the Queens Republican Party for failing to do enough to keep Councilman Koo.
“I’m really disappointed, but at the same time I can’t blame him. Peter is a rock star and a superstar in his community. He represented the future of this party and I tried to do everything I could to help him stay in the Republican Party. But I don’t think people at county level or the local level were particularly helpful in respect to that.”
Councilman Ulrich’s comments echo what sources told the Times, saying that Mr. Koo’s switch came because “he did not feel appreciated by the Queens Republican Party and infighting in the county organization made him increasingly uncomfortable.”