Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries is moving ahead to challenge 15-term Rep. Ed Towns — a battle that will set off a generational clash that party leaders once thought could be avoided.
Jeffries (D–Fort Greene) held a fundraiser on Sunday night in Williamsburg, meeting with influential Hasidic leaders such as Rabbi David Niederman and Joseph Goldberger — both key Towns allies.
The invitation referred only to Jeffries’s “potential campaign for a seat in the United States House of Representatives.”
Jeffries has not publicly commented on whether he plans to battle Towns.
“All I’ve done is open an exploratory committee,” Jeffries told us, referring to the paperwork he has filed with the Federal Elections Commission.
A source close to Jeffries would take on the 30-year veteran if he can raise enough money to be competitive.
Towns certainly isn’t backing down.
“I don’t have a problem with that,” said Towns. “That’s what democracy is all about. People run against each other.”
Brooklyn Democratic insiders have long expected Jeffries to run for Congress — but after Towns retired.
But why wait? Jeffries, 40, believes he’ll get the backing of controversial Democratic Party boss Assemblyman Vito Lopez (D–Williamsburg), who worked against his rival Towns’s recent bid for a district leader post. And Jeffries is popular with progressive leaders in Downtown for his work on reforming the redistricting process.
Beating Towns, who is 76, would not be easy. The veteran congressman raised $1.6 million in his last campaign, and easily defeated Kevin Powell.