FLUSHING — Assemblywoman Grace Meng took one step closer to becoming the first Asian American to represent New York in Congress as she captured the Democratic primary for the 6th Congressional District Tuesday night.
With 89 percent of districts reporting, Meng had a commanding lead over her challengers in her bid to succeed retiring Rep. Gary Ackerman, with 50.8 percent of the vote, compared to 28.3 percent for Assemblyman Rory Lancman and 15.8 percent for City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley.
"Thank you for taking a leap of faith with me. And I'll always have your back," Meng told supporters at a victory party at the Plum Restaurant in Bayside, where cheering fans waved signs and clapped.
Turnout was low across the newly redrawn district, which stretches from Flushing and Bayside through Forest Hills, Middle Village and Glendale, Queens.
But voters who did turn out overwhelmingly cast their ballots for Meng, who had the backing of both Ackerman and Queens Democratic Party honcho Joe Crowley, and maintained a significant money advantage.
"We look forward to winning in November and getting right to work,” Meng said outside of the St. Andrew Avellino School in Flushing Tuesday morning, after casting her vote along with her husband and two young sons.
Taiwanese-born Meng appeared to do especially well in the district's large Asian communities, including Flushing, Queens.
"We need the power for the Asians and she represented our voice," said residnet Aesun Choi, 55, after voting for Meng at St. Andrew Avellino School off Northern Boulevard.
"She has been doing good the last four years," added Choi. "She's young and has a great future ahead."
Eunsook Cho, 54, who is Korean, said she decided to vote for the first time in the 14 years she's lived in the United States because Meng was on the ballot.
“I believe she can work to the community's interests," Cho said.
Others, however, sided with Lancman, who was expected to do especially well among Jewish voters in the district.
"We're so fed up with a congressman whose acts didn't represent us in the House," said Bonnie, 47, a lawyer from Glendale who declined to give her last name, but said she hoped her vote for Lancman would help Democrats win back the house.
Crowley, who enjoyed endorsements from police, fire and construction trade unions, also earned praise from some voters familiar with her work on the council.
"So far Liz Crowley has been doing a good job for us at the City Council," said Robert, a 40-year-old Democrat of Glendale, who declined to give his last name, but hoped a new voice in Congress would help "push the economy to turn around.”
Throughout the day, the candidates’ teams had worked to boost turnout, urging supporters to turn up at the polls, despite the rare June Primary date.
But the efforts appeared to fall flat.
At JHS 190 Russell Sage in Forest Hills, poll workers estimating that only 400 voters made it to the polls as of 6 p.m.
Elsewhere, lines of white voting booths stood empty, as poll workers sat around, bored.
Although the Department of Justice said that they would be monitoring Tuesday's elections, poll workers at Russell Sage said that no one from the DOJ had showed up all day.
"If they were here they were undercover," poll worker Eileen Perks said.
Meng will now face Republican City Councilman Daniel Halloran in the general election.