Democratic Rep. Gary Ackerman (Queens-Nassau) insists that he is running for re-election despite all the Republican talk about his imminent retirement.
The retirement speculation reached such a crescendo Tuesday that Ackerman was forced to send out a message on Twitter for the second time in three days saying that he is not retiring.
“Republican rumor mill is 100%, Absolutely Wrong,” he tweeted. “I’m running.”
Ackerman, 69, of Roslyn Heights has been a member of Congress since winning a special election in 1983.
Prompting the latest tweet was an e-mail from National Republican Congressional Committee that asked the question: “Are New York Democrats trying to delay Gary Ackerman’s retirement for political gain? Despite his defensive response, all the signs are there that Ackerman is prepared to throw in the towel.”
Earlier speculation stemmed from some Republican comments about the possibility that a fellow Democrat, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, might have her district redrawn so that it moves into northern Nassau County and merges with much of Ackerman’s. The two would then have to fight for one seat in a primary.
The State Legislature, with a Republican-controlled Senate and a Democratic-controlled Assembly, has been unable to redraw congressional lines to reflect the 2010 census decline in the state’s population. That decline reduces to 27 from 29 the number of congressional seats in the state.
As a result, a panel of federal judges in Brooklyn appointed Magistrate Roanne Mann to draw the new lines with the help of redistricting professional Nathaniel Persily of Columbia Law School. Mann was asked to have a proposed map by March 12 for the panel to review; the judges said they would be prepared to impose a new congressional map by March 20.
Conventional wisdom had it that the Republicans would eliminate one seat and the Democrats another. When Rep. Maurice Hinchey, an upstate Democrat, announced his retirement Jan. 18, all eyes shifted to the Republicans to see what they would do. But the Republican rumor mill has been working overtime to suggest that the state will lose a second Democratic seat, something Ackerman scoffs at.
“The Democrats have to give up one seat in the state, and we have one member retiring — duhh,” he was quoted as saying.
Asked Wednesday about the persistent rumors of his retirement being fanned by Republicans, Ackerman told The Jewish Week through a spokesman: “It shows I’m the one the Republicans are afraid of.”