Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


Lancman Reportedly to Run for Ackerman Seat

Retirement and redistricting open door for Jewish Queens assemblyman

Print Email
Rory Lancman in 2010.(Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

Yesterday, Rory Lancman, an assemblyman and rising Jewish Democratic star in Queens, said he would not run against 15-term Democratic Rep. Gary Ackerman in a primary in Ackerman’s Queens and Long Island district, which contains a substantial Jewish population.

Lancman had been planning to run against Rep. Bob Turner in a different district, a traditionally Jewish- and Democratic-held one in Queens and Brooklyn that Turner, a Republican, won last September in a special election following Anthony Weiner’s resignation. However, under a prospective plan drawn up to account for New York’s losing two House seats after the 2010 census, that district would be eliminated, and Ackerman’s would be substantially altered.

Turner saw the writing on the wall: Earlier this week, he announced he’s running for Senate.

And yesterday evening, Ackerman, a longtime strong friend of Israel in the House, announced he will not seek re-election. Ackerman told the New York Times that he is confident Democrats will be able to hold his seat. Given the overlap of Ackerman’s new district with the one Lancman wanted to run for, and given its Democratic-friendliness, the door would seem wide open to Lancman.

Lancman’s office declined comment, but a source close to Lancman told Tablet Magazine, “Of course he’s running.”

Among other likely contenders is Mark Weprin, brother of David Weprin, who lost to Turner last September: basically a Jeb Bush figure, assuming George W. Bush were a horrible politician.

Hank Sheinkopf, a Democratic consultant and The Scroll’s New York City politics rabbi, noted that Ackerman’s district had changed substantially, over multiple redistrictings, from when he first won it in a 1983 special election to succeed Democrat Benjamin Rosenthal, who died after two decades in Congress. “At some point, you lose the desire to keep going through this,” Sheinkopf said. (Of redistricting, he noted, “It’s exciting every 10 years, and then it’s not.)

At a hearing yesterday, judges parried mau-mauing from African-American, Latino, and Orthodox Jewish “communities of interest,” each of which wanted a new seat likely to be held by one of its own: the former two in northern Manhattan and the Bronx, the latter in south Brooklyn.

“The judges questioned what characteristics would define a Jewish community of interest,” reports Capital’s Reid Pillifant, “with some supporters arguing that Jews were a distinct ‘race’ that should be protected as if they were governed by the Voting Rights Act, and others simply arguing that they shared a geographical base, values, and interests, that made the community a distinct bloc that shouldn’t be diluted between three districts, as they are in the proposed plan.”

Ron Kampeas takes stock of Ackerman’s career, which concluded with him as ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Mideast subcommittee; in 2010, he was probably the most prominent congressman to accept J Street’s endorsement, though he subsequently fell out with the group. In truth, the news is a much bigger deal in India than in Israel: Ackerman co-founded the House Indian-American caucus, represented many Indians and Indian-Americans who live in Flushing, Rego Park, and other Queens neighborhoods, and was known to be attentive to India’s needs and concerns.

“When it comes to Israel and Middle East issues, Rep. Ackerman has been nothing short of sage and indefatigable,” said the National Jewish Democratic Council in a statement. “Just recently, Ackerman played a central role in obtaining the release of Ilan Grapel, a former intern of his who was accused by Egyptian authorities of being a spy for Israel; he took a firm and active stance against the Gaza flotilla; and he wisely pushed back against the unfortunate, partisan ‘appeasement’ rhetoric that some had been using regarding administration policy on Syria.”

And here was the response of a Democratic congressman from Long Island:

Ackerman Won’t Seek Re-Election to Congress [NYT City Room]
How the Courts Changed New York’s Congressional Maps, But Not Much [Capital New York]
Ackerman Won’t Run Again [JTA]
Earlier: NYC Redistricting Shakes Up Jewish Pols
Lancman the Choice to Challenge Turner

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.

[“…judges parried mau-mauing…”]

I loved your phrasing for its accuracy and its historical correct context. That’s for telling it like it is.

BTW, Lancman really is the superior candidate.

bullvant says:

lancman voted for same sex marriage in a district that’s very orthodox. So much for a caring politician!


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Lancman Reportedly to Run for Ackerman Seat

Retirement and redistricting open door for Jewish Queens assemblyman

More on Tablet:

Wolf Blitzer Explores His Jewish Roots

By David Meir Grossman — CNN host visits Yad Vashem and Auschwitz for the network’s ‘Roots’ series