BY TRONE DOWD
State Sen. James Sanders Jr. (D-Far Rockaway) is expected to announce a run for Congress sometime next week.
Sanders filed the paperwork with the Federal Election Commission on Dec. 2 to officially run for the 5th Congressional District Dec. 2. This would likely pit Sanders against long time Democrat and Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) in the 2016 primary.
According to Sanders’ press office, he delayed his announcement upon news of Meek’s father’s untimely passing on Thanksgiving Day. Out of respect, Sanders is currently waiting until after the funeral on Saturday to formally announce his run for the seat.
Meeks, who was elected in a special election in 1998 to replace Floyd Flake, currently serves as a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee and as a ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe and Eurasia. However, in recent months, Meeks has faced a number of criticisms from the media for his travels abroad concerning his responsibilities as a member of both committees, as some believed that it was taking away from serving his district here in Queens. Among those critics was Sanders, who called out Meeks for not addressing the many issues in his district.
“A congressman is akin to a quarterback on a football team,” Sanders told the Press of Southeast Queens in October. “What team could play well if their quarterback doesn’t show up? We are still battling predatory lending, high unemployment, airport noise and many low performing schools, among other problems. I urge our congressman to focus on these issues.”
Meeks defended his travels around the world, telling the Press of Southeast Queens, that it was “imperative” to his role on the committee.
“Traveling abroad and meeting with my counterparts is critical in order to make the most sound decisions on behalf of my constituents and the national security interests of America, because we live in an interconnected global community,” Meeks said.
In a letter written by Meeks published just two weeks after the initial comment, he called on Sanders to work with him instead of judging his actions without trying to understand the full scope of his responsibilities as a political figure on a national level.
“[N]o amount of political attacks and posturing will deter me from doing what’s right especially when matters of war and peace hang in the balance,” Meeks wrote. “I hope Sen. Sanders will work with me in addressing the many issues that concern our community rather than do the bidding of my political opponents.
The 5th District, which is centered in Jamaica, includes all of Southeast Queens, the Rockaway Peninsula and the Nassau County communities of Elmont, Valley Stream, Inwood and Franklin Square. The primary is June 28, 2016.
Reach Trone Dowd at (718) 357-7400 x123, firstname.lastname@example.org or @theloniusly.