Grace Meng could be the first Asian-American congresswoman from New York, but the Queens assemblyman first faces City Councilman Dan Halloran in next month's competitive election. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.
Queens Assemblywoman Grace Meng wants to make history. The two-term Democrat could be the first Asian-American that New York sends to Washington.
"I think being in Congress gives me a bigger platform to bring back more resources for our district," Meng said.
However, Republican City Councilman Dan Halloran said he is better equipped to do the job.
"I don't know if Grace has the ability to stand up in Washington and fight for our district," Halloran said.
The two are battling to represent a newly drawn congressional district, which stretches from Flushing to Bayside to Glendale. It has a large Asian American population and a large white one.
The issues, both candidates agree, go far beyond race.
"They are hardworking, middle-income families who really understand that government is too big, they are taxed too much and they need the jobs back," said Halloran.
"We've thought of tax incentives for states and for localities and municipalities to hire the teachers, the firefighters that have lost jobs," said Meng.
The two have sparred over who would best represent the middle class and who is more pro-Israel.
They have competing endorsements. Meng has Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Mayor Ed Koch on her side, while Halloran has solidified a nod from former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
The councilman is at a distinct disadvantage in Queens. Not only do Democrats vastly outnumber Republicans in the district, but the assemblywoman has also raised far more campaign cash.
Both of their campaigns also come with some scars, some literal and some metaphorical.
Halloran set off a firestorm during the blizzard of 2010, blaming sanitation workers for a slowdown, a charge that was later unfounded.
He also surprised City Hall in May when he announced he had surgery to remove a brain tumor.
"I'm actually remarkably well," he recently said.
For Meng, just in July, her father, a former assemblyman, was arrested for bribery.
"A lot of voters and residents and neighbors have been extremely supportive," she said.
The two candidates are fighting for more support until Election Day.