At a news conference complete with red, white and blue balloons and signs promoting Meng, the Chinese lumber company operator said he could be the voice for all of Flushing if he won the Democratic party primary and was elected to the state Assembly.
"As an American, every one of us should have one American dream," Meng said. "I would be honored to run for state Assembly."
In a room crowded with Chinese supporters and a few blacks, whites and Hispanics at the Sheraton LaGuardia East, Meng and his supporters spoke about the candidate's track record in being involved in his community.
"Jimmy is not for himself, he is for Flushing," Ho-Poeh Lee, a professor and friend of Meng's, told the news conference. "He is for the Chinese Americans and the other people in the community."
Meng ran against Grodenchik in the November 2000 assembly race. In that election, Meng earned 3,782 votes to Grodenchik's 5,593. He competed against Republican Meilin Tan, Liberal Ethel Chen, Green Party candidate Evergreen Chou and Working Families Party candidate John Albert.
Chen sat next to Meng at the announcement Tuesday to show her support for his campaign for the seat, which covers Flushing, Queensborough Hill, Flushing on the Hill, Murray Hill and Cedar Grove.
"I am very impressed to have so many supporters come to support Jimmy Meng," Chen said. "Now we see so many people to show this campaign is alive. This is a historical moment to show we can work so well."
Fred Fu, chairman of the Flushing Chinese Business Association, said he offered his support for Meng, but after the news conference he said he was still going to offer Grodenchik his nod as well.
"I support both," Fu said after the meeting. "I don't think this is a very political issue, this is the community."
Grodenchik released a statement after Meng's formal declaration, criticizing him because of controversy from the last election.
"By refusing to denounce his campaign workers who made racist statements in the last campaign, Jimmy Meng has proven himself to be unfit to hold public office," Grodenchik said. "His candidacy is an affront to Flushing's 350-year tradition of tolerance and diversity.
"Jimmy Meng and his fellow hate mongers should be condemned for attempting to score cheap political points by dividing our neighborhood," Grodenchik said in a statement.
He was addressing a controversy that arose during the last election when Meng's daughter was accused of having anti-Semitic statements on her Web site. The comments on her Web site disparaged the Taiwanese Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) for supporting Grodenchik, a Jewish candidate, over her father, who is from mainland China.
His other daughter, Grace Meng, spoke on behalf of her father by emceeing the event Tuesday.
"He has always been nicknamed the mayor of Flushing," she said. "In this time of a weakened economy, we have a great need for good leadership."
Reach reporter Cynthia Koons by e-mail at news@times
©2004 Community News Group
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