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Crowley, Markey unite Democratic clubs

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Repairing a 16-year-old rift, U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) and state Assemblywoman Margaret Markey (D-Maspeth) have reunited the Democratic clubs that split apart when the elected officials ran against one another for office in 1986.

The Walter Crowley Regular Democratic Club and the 30th Assembly District Regular Democratic Club, both located in Part A of the 30th Assembly District, have merged as the Alfred E. Smith Regular Democratic Club, named for the former Democratic governor of New York and presidential candidate.

The move restores the club that had broken apart 16 years ago when Crowley and Markey faced off in a race for state Assembly, out of which Crowley emerged victorious.

Markey won the assembly seat in 1998 when Crowley made his successful bid for a seat in the House of Representatives.

Crowley said he expects the unification to “make us one of the strongest Democratic clubs in the county.”

“There’s no need to have two clubs,” Crowley said in a telephone interview Monday. “Both of us are elected officials and we work extremely well together, and a lot of folks have been asking for this for quite some time.”

About 80 people attended a brunch Sunday at the Maspeth Town Hall on 72nd Street to officially bring the members of both groups together.

“Not too many clubs start out with a congressman and an assembly member,” Markey said Tuesday. “Usually you work to aspire to that, but we already have it.”

Since a lot of the work done by the clubs had been redundant, such as gathering signatures for petitions to get on the ballot for elected office, Crowley said uniting them made sense “from an efficiency point of view.”

He also anticipates that the joined clubs will boost the campaigns for both himself and Markey as they run for re-election this year.

“This sends a powerful message to anyone out there who’s potentially looking to challenge that,” he said.

The two separate clubs had officially been recognized by the Queens County Democratic Organization because both Crowley and Markey are district leaders, four of whom are elected in every assembly district — two in Part A, two in Part B.

Each part of an assembly district typically has a single Democratic club chaired by the two district leaders together.

Markey has been a district leader for about two decades and Crowley assumed his post after the death of his uncle, Walter Crowley, for whom his club had been named.

The assembly and congressional districts Crowley and Markey represent emerged relatively intact after the maps recently were redrawn based on new population figures from the 2000 U.S. Census. There had been some speculation that Crowley’s congressional district would be eliminated.

“When people ask me how do I like my new congressional district, the answer is I love it because I have a congressional district,” he said.

Crowley’s new district is split evenly between Queens and the Bronx, whereas 70 percent of his original district is in Queens.

Markey’s redrawn district would cover all but a few blocks of Maspeth and pushes farther southeast into Middle Village. In the northern section the district has shifted to include parts of Astoria while removing Markey from Jackson Heights.

She will have to move her office, however, which no longer sits in the boundaries of the district.

Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 154.

Posted 7:06 pm, October 10, 2011
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