U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks’s (D-Jamaica) path to re-election just became much clearer.
State Sen. James Sanders Jr. (D-South Ozone Park) announced last week that he would be ending his campaign for Congress and instead focus his efforts on defending his seat in the 10th District this fall.
“As many are aware, I had recently explored a run for Congress because of the dire need I feel we have in overturning the current establishment overseeing southeastern Queens,” Sanders said in a press release.
“I wanted to rid the complacency, mediocrity and ethical lapses from yet another elected seat that has been preventing real improvements from being enacted in our neighborhoods,” he added. “But now that a Democratic majority is within our grasp in the statehouse we have the opportunity to do the good work that we’ve been striving to accomplish for so long, devoid of Republican obstructionism.”
State Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Nassau), who wielded great power as the Senate majority leader, was found guilty of federal corruption charges in January and is awaiting sentencing. A battle for control of the Senate is being waged by both Republicans and Democrats at this point.
Both Meeks and Sanders Jr. have been involved in southeastern Queens politics for years.
Sanders represents the 10th Senatorial District, which includes the neighborhoods of Richmond Hill, South Ozone Park, Jamaica, Rochdale Village, Rosedale and parts of Far Rockaway.
He previously served in the City Council and spearheaded legislation downzoning homes in Cambria Heights so that the neighborhood would always retain its quality-of-life standards.
In 2012, he unseated former Sen. Shirley Huntley, who was convicted of funneling public funds to charities she oversaw and served less than a year in federal prison.
His district covers Far Rockaway, Jamaica, St. Albans, Springfield Gardens, South Ozone Park and parts of Elmont and Valley Stream, L.I.
Meeks has served as a congressman since 1998, when he took over the seat that had been held by the Rev. Floyd Flake, who resigned to work on the ambitious development of the Allen AME cathedral.
Meeks began his political career as an assistant district attorney and special narcotics prosecutor for the city before joining the Investigations Commission on official misconduct and organized crime. He then served as a supervising judge for the New York State Workers Compensation System. He currently serves on a number of foreign affairs committees in the House.
Reach reporter Gabriel Rom by e-mail at grom@