Congressional upstart Kevin Powell is already a vegan, but an endorsement tonight might make the House hopeful consider keeping Kosher.
Powell, 42, a former hip-hop writer and MTV “Real World” star who is aiming to unseat 13-term incumbent Ed Towns (D–Fort Greene), looks poised to secure the endorsement of 200 leaders of Williamsburg’s Hasidic community at a Powell fundraiser tonight, insiders told The Brooklyn Paper.
“Powell is doing a lot of work in the Jewish community, he’s scoring a lot of points,” a source in the Satmar community told The Brooklyn Paper. “A large portion of community leaders will throw their names behind him on Monday night.”
The potential endorsees said they were disappointed with Towns’s presence in the community — or lack thereof, our tipster said.
“If you ask any person in this community — ‘What has this congressman done?’ — they will say, ‘Nothing,’” he said.
Powell staffers are reluctant to guarantee the endorsement, but they say their candidate has put in long hours speaking with Jewish leaders about issues like affordable housing, rent protection, education, job training and food stamps — all key topics in the Satmar Hasidic community that is based in Williamsburg.
If the fundraiser does turn into an endorsement party, the Powell campaign plans to launch a last-minute voter registration drive.
“There could be anywhere from 6,000 to 10,000 voters in that community,” campaign strategist Arthur Schwartz said. “In the last election two years ago…there was a six-percent turnout. If we get those 6,000 to 10,000 voters to the polls, that’s going to be a major factor in the election.”
Towns won the 2006 Democratic primary, but only earned 47 percent of the vote in a three-way race. Powell is hoping that a head-to-head battle against Towns will avoid the vote-splitting that undermined 2006 candidates Charles Barron and Roger Green.
Even if some Hasidic dignitaries endorse Powell at the fundraiser, which will be held at the Rose Castle banquet hall on Flushing Avenue, it is unlikely that the sentiment will be unanimous throughout Williamsburg’s Jewish community.
Rabbi David Niederman — director of the influential United Jewish Organization — has been a Towns staffer since 2002.
Niederman did not return calls by the time of publication.
Towns spokeswoman Lupe Todd said that the 74-year-old incumbent has also been having talks with the Hasidic community and is confident that he’ll retain their support.