He’s our new Towns!
Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries pasted Councilman Charles Barron in a congressional primary fight to succeed Rep. Ed Towns — and almost certainly represent more than a third of the borough in Congress — on Tuesday night by snagging 72 percent of the vote, early returns show.
With 98 percent of the precincts reporting in the horeshoe-shaped district that includes Brooklyn Heights, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, and Bedford-Stuyvesant — as well as several southern Brooklyn neighborhoods once led by sexting-scandal-scarred Rep. Anthony Weiner — the Albany legislator received more than 25,000 votes, according to WNYC radio.
Barron, a former Black Panther who represents East New York and Canarsie, pulled in just more than 10,000 votes, records show.
Jeffries said he was overjoyed by the outcome.
“All the political pundits said this was going to be a close race, but all across the district, from Bed-Stuy to Brighton Beach, the people spoke in one loud voice,” Jeffries told more than 200 supporters at a victory party at Sanders Studios NYC, a performance space in Clinton Hill. “I’m going to Washington to do the people’s business.”
Jeffries said that his support came from all over the district, which grew exponentially during Albany’s latest redistricting session.
“There is not a single community that we didn’t do well in,” he said.
Barron couldn’t say the same — nor would he congratulate Jeffries on his win.
“At the risk of sounding like a sore loser there will be no congratulatory statements made to the opposition tonight,” a terse Barron told his campaign staff at Sistas’ Place in Bedford-Stuyvesant as he blamed the New York democratic leadership and the media for his downfall.
Barron, who never identified Jeffries by name, said the Assemblyman attacked his campaign at every turn.
“The way the campaign was run, and the things they did to character assassinate us, for the opponent not to stand up and say ‘I have enough money, I have enough backing to win, don’t do that to another black man in front of the entire nation,’” said Barron. “For the opponent not to do that shows a lack of character.”
State lawmakers re-mapped Towns’s district this spring, adding Sheepshead Bay, Mill Basin, and several other right-leaning Southern Brooklyn neighborhoods to the expansive district.
The race took off when Jeffries announced his congressional bid in January, setting the stage for what some expected to be a close three-way primary with Towns and Barron, who almost defeated the 77-year-old lawmaker in 2006.
Towns vowed to fight for his seat, denying rumors that he was going to retire to avoid losing a competitive primary. But his 2012 campaign got off to a slow start: the veteran pol only had $11,000 on hand last October and, even though he managed to build an impressive war chest, he was still outpaced by Jeffries, who raised more than $750,000.
Towns finally called it quits in April, announcing that he would retire at the end of the year after spending nearly three decades in Congress.
Jeffries, who was backed by Brooklyn Democratic Party boss Vito Lopez, quickly assumed frontrunner status after racking up the endorsements of dozens of elected officials and powerful labor unions.
But Towns evened the scales by endorsing Barron — an outspoken critic of Israel and fan of Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe and Libyan dictator Moammar Khadafy — in a surprise move that spoke more about his well-established hatred for Brooklyn’s Democratic boss than his love of Barron.
Barron’s campaign started to falter in the final weeks when borough Jewish leaders denounced him as a “hate monger and anti-Semite.” Barron — who only raised $50,000 for his campaign — grabbed further negative headlines when he received an unsolicited endorsement from David Duke, a former Louisiana congressman and Klu Klux Klan leader.
Jeffries’ primary is over, but he still has to face Republican and Green Party challengers in the fall before he’s given a ticket to Washington.
—with Colin Mixson