Hurricane crashes Congress race

Primary contender: Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries is gunning for retiring Rep. Ed Towns’s seat, but faces stiff opposition from Councilman Charles Barron.

The race to replace retiring Rep. Ed Towns will wrap up next week, but no one seems to care about it right now — the candidates included.

Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries (D–Fort Greene) is the runaway favorite to win Tuesday’s election for the House seat — which covers a district including Downtown, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Bedford–Stuyvesant, Canarsie, Mill Basin, Marine Park, Brighton Beach, and Coney Island — but he won’t even discuss the race because he’s too busy working on Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, his spokeswoman said.

“He’s not focused on the race. I can’t even get him to talk to me about it,” said Lupe Todd, the spokeswoman for the Jeffries campaign. “He’s very concerned about the southern tier of the district and he’s been down there for several days. This election is the farthest thing from his mind.”

His longshot rivals are equally preoccupied.

“I don’t have any plans anymore,” said Republican candidate Alan Bellone, as he drove through hurricane-ravaged Mill Basin. “There is so much devastation I’m dealing with, trying to help out friends and family who are having a horrific time. Whatever will be will be.”

Bellone campaigned hard before the storm — but unless he experiences a near-impossible surge in the final the week, the next time he’s planning to think about politics is 24 months away.

“Two years from now, I will run against him again,” said Bellone. “If I win, I will be out there helping everyone I can.”

Green candidate Colin Beavan says Hurricane Sandy proves his platform of addressing climate change is vitally important.
Photo provided by Colin Beavan

Colin Beavan, who is running as a Green Party candidate, says addressing climate change is his primary platform — and he claims the fact that New York City has suffered through two hurricanes in the past 14 months makes that agenda much more pressing.

“All the activists have been trying to put pressure on the politicians, but the politicians don’t listen,” said the “No Impact Man” author who is now working on a book called “How Shall I Live: The Quest for a Raucous, Fun-Filled, Meaningful Life in a Frightening, Confusing World that Needs our Help.” “During the presidential debates, no one even mentioned climate change. That’s awful.”

Beavan said he’s under no illusions that he will win this election.

“It’s a long-term proposition and I’m part of a bigger movement,” said Beavan. “It’s all shoulders against the door in many ways.”

Jeffries, a former attorney, was elected to state Assembly in 2006 and made a name for himself fighting to reform drug laws and the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy.

He trounced Councilman Charles Barron (D–Canarsie) in the Democratic primary and appears poised to coast to an easy victory — a big reversal from the slugfest many predicted before Towns announced he would retire.

The outgoing Congressman held his seat for nearly 30 years.

Republican hopeful Alan Bellone says his focus is on hurricane recovery.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

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