The two candidates for the 8th Congressional district's Democratic primary made their case on air with WNYC's Brian Lehrer on Thursday. Both Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries and City Councilman Charles Barron defended about their records at home and outlined their goals in Congress.
Lehrer set the tone for the differences between the candidates and asked how they see the legacy of the retiring incumbent, Ed Towns, and why they are worthy of succeeding the 27-year Congressman.
"I would bring an approach that would build upon the aggressive, efficient legislative advocacy that I've taken in Albany," Jeffries said. "Now is the time, given all that's happening down in Washington, for serious legislators to go down to congress and execute upon the business of the people and put aside partisan bickering."
Jeffries points to his leading on issues including his reform on the electronic tracking of NYPD's controversial stop and frisk policy.
Lehrer asked Barron to comment on his previous public statement that he didn't know if he would get "single bill passed and I don’t care. We’re going to rock ’em.”
Baron said that he was being taken out of context and accused Lehrer of sounding like he was in the Jeffries camp.
"I said in that context I may not ever get a bill passed but we're going to have to bring a movement to Washington D.C. -- the kind of leadership I provide -- if we're going to impact a House that has majority of Republicans," Barron said. "Most of the people listening to this show don't know who the prime sponsors were in the House and the Senate of the 1964 Civil Rights Act or the 1965 Voting Rights Act because it the movements that really passed those bills."
Lehrer went on to ask Barron about his response to recent criticism by Jewish political leaders on his policy towards Israel, which Barron responded to saying that Israel is not a top of his list of priorities. Instead, he said he would first focus on Africa, Latin America and Europe, later accusing Jeffries of playing political games on Israel.
"He is just trying to play up the Israeli vote and make it seem divisive and all of that," Barron said.
When Lehrer asked Jeffries about his position on the controversial Atlantic Yards development in his district, Jeffries reaffirmed that he has been critical of the project's inability to deliver jobs and affordable housing. Jeffries added that Barron's criticism of Jeffries "going along to get along" is not necessarily a bad thing.
"I actually think that it's a strength," Jeffries said. "Any reasonable person who looks at how do you get things done in a legislative body up in Albany, down in the United States Congress, will have to conclude that there needs to be an ability to form coalitions, to develop relationships, to get along with people on issues of principle in terms of advancing and moving an agenda forward."