Jeffries-mandered! Hakeem could be cut from legislative district, again

Jeffries-mandered! Hakeem could be cut from legislative district, again
Community Newspaper Group / Aaron Short

Congressional hopeful Hakeem Jeffries may find himself running without his political strongholds of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill thanks to gerrymandered district lines — like the ones that cut him out of his Assembly district a decade ago.

A federal judge drew new draft maps for each House district this week, removing the Fort Greene Assemblyman’s biggest supporters in central Brooklyn while adding a wide swath southern Brooklyn including Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Mill Basin, and Gerritsen Beach as well as Queens neighborhoods like Howard Beach to the sprawling district currently overseen by Rep. Ed Towns (D–Bedford-Stuyvesant).

Jeffries, who announced his intention to challenge Towns earlier this year, said that the preliminary maps gave him a “flashback to 2002” when state legislators drew a line around his house, forcing him to move in order to run for a state Assembly seat.

“It’s deja vu all over again — I survived that and I will survive this time around,” he said.

The new lines aren’t just bad news for the aspiring Congressman, they’re also unfair to Brooklyn voters, Jeffries told a supporters at a rally against the new maps outside federal court on Thursday.

“I’m no demographer but I do think Howard Beach does not have anything in common with Bedford-Stuyvesant,” he said.

State legislators must draw new lines for their own districts and for Congress once every 10 years following census counts. But the process has become so politically tinged in recent decades that federal court judges must step in and redraw the lines themselves.

This year, few public officials are happy.

Jeffries, fellow Congressional candidate Councilman Charles Barron (D–Canarsie), and half a dozen pols came together to rail against the federal judge’s proposed map on Thursday, a rare point of agreement among the political rivals.

“These [district lines] are an attack on Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, and we can’t allow that to happen,” said Barron. “We’re not looking for favors or handouts, we’re asking to demand our fair share of power.”

Both Jeffries and Barron vowed to continue campaigning for Congress despite the new maps and said they believe Judge Roanne Mann would return Fort Greene and Clinton Hill to the central Brooklyn district before the maps become the law of the land.

Jeffries invited Towns to the event, but he did not attend and declined to comment. Rep. Yvette Clarke (D–Park Slope), who would inherit Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, was in Washington and did not attend the rally.

Judge Mann will submit a final draft of the maps on Monday before a panel of three judges makes them official.

Reach reporter Aaron Short at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2547.