06/01/2012 07:00 pm ET

Elizabeth Crowley, Queens Democratic Congressional Candidate, Accused Of Texting In Debate

After checking her cell phone nearly 20 times in a recent debate in what her opponents said was texting for answers, Elizabeth Crowley, a Democratic congressional candidate from Queens, N.Y., is fielding further attacks blasting her for skipping one debate and arriving late to three others, according to City & State New York.

The New York City councilwoman's campaign said that the texting allegations, reported by the New York Daily News, were untrue and that she was using her phone to take notes, not read answers, during the May 29 debate. But the local press went after Crowley for the "disrespectful" use of her phone during the debate.

Now her competitors in the Democratic primary, state assembly members Rory Lancman and Grace Meng, are highlighting her tardiness at several events in recent weeks. The three are competing in a June 26 primary for an open seat, with the winner facing Republican Councilman Dan Halloran in November.

Though the rival campaigns claim Crowley was more than or about 30 minutes late to three events, Crowley's campaign told City&State that she was only 90 seconds late to one and only 15 minutes late to another. One tardiness, at the MinKwon Center for Community Action, they acknowledged was unexcused.

The campaigns also charged that she had skipped one debate altogether, though Crowley's campaign said they had never confirmed her attendance.

The race has been heating up as local officials offer their endorsements. Meng has been endorsed by local Democratic officials, including retiring Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Queens Democratic Party and Elizabeth Crowley's cousin. Crowley, who has strong ties to local unions, has been campaigning on her union support. Lancman, who is Jewish, has received a coveted endorsement from former New York Mayor Ed Koch because of his outspoken support of Israel. The Jewish population is expected to make up about 20 percent of the turnout in the Democratic primary.

According to some estimates, Asians and whites each make up just under 40 percent of the population, while Hispanics account for 17 percent and blacks 4 percent.

Meng is the third Asian-American to win a state legislative seat in New York history and would be the first Asian-American member of Congress from the Empire State.