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Party Choice Wins Seat In Queens

By Bob Benenson, CQ Staff Writer

Democrat Gregory W. Meeks, the favorite of his party, his predecessor and the AFL-CIO, easily outdistanced the field in the Feb. 3 special election in the 6th District of New York.

Meeks was sworn in Feb. 5, just two days after dominating a contest marked by light turnout in the black-majority 6th District in Queens. Meeks' unofficial tally of 14,565 votes was 57.5 percent of all votes cast.

Meeks will complete the term of former Rep. Floyd H. Flake, a Democrat who resigned Nov. 15 to devote full time to his church ministry.

Meeks had Flake's endorsement going into the party committee caucus that nominated him in January. But he had to hold off two other Democrats from the state Legislature who ran on the ballot lines of other parties. The more threatening of these was state Sen. Alton R. Waldon Jr., who held the southeastern Queens seat in Congress briefly in 1986.

Also competing were state Rep. Barbara M. Clark, 58, who ran as an independent on the 21st Century Party line, and Republican nominee Celestine V. Miller, 54, a district school superintendent and first-time candidate who until recently was a registered Democrat.

Waldon ran a distant second with an unofficial tally of 5,200 votes, or 20.5 percent. Clark had 3,206 votes, or 12.7 percent, and Miller took 2,174 votes, or 8.6 percent. Right to Life Party candidate Mary Cronin, who did not campaign, had 186 votes, or 0.7 percent.

Running against the party was a striking role reversal for Waldon, 61, who beat Flake in a 1986 special election but then lost to him in the primary that September. Flake had portrayed Waldon as the hand-picked proxy of the white-dominated Queens Democratic organization -- an accusation Waldon chose to hurl at Meeks this winter.

Waldon accepted the endorsements of New York's Independence Party (a branch of the National Reform Party) and -- in a surprise -- the Conservative Party. Waldon had run in his state legislative races with the backing of New York's Liberal Party, which supported Meeks in the Feb. 3 special election.

© 1998 Congressional Quarterly Inc. All rights reserved.
In CQ News This Week

Saturday February 7, 1998

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Party Choice Wins Seat In Queens
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