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Barron, Jeffries Deploy Opposite Strategies Ahead of Tomorrow's Election

Monday, June 25, 2012 - 01:00 PM

Councilman Charles Barron, center, with City Councilwoman Diana Reyna (Chester Soria/WNYC)

As Tuesday's Democratic primary began to close in, the candidates for New York's 8th Congressional district made their last-ditch pitches to voters in Brooklyn and southern Queens.

City Councilman Charles Barron's campaign tried to take control of its messaging after a rough week of controversial headlines by directly addressing his prospective constituents. Meanwhile, Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries tried to reinforce his legislative record both in the district and on national airwaves.

On Friday, Barron made an appearance in front of the City Hall steps. Attorney Roger Wareham read a statement on behalf of the campaign. In it, Wareham framed the last few weeks as an unprecedented effort on by establishment media and politicians against Barron's candidacy.

"Never has there in the history of the district has all those forces joined together in opposition to one candidate," Wareham said. "The people in the 8th Congressional district with whom this campaign has interacted are asking, why? And our response is it has everything to do with Charles Barron's service to them."

Barron stood in front of his supporters, including representation from the environmental group The Sierra Club, public union DC-1707 and local East New York organization Hip Hop SUV.

The campaign also announced its latest endorsements from City Council members Diana Reyna and Annabel Palma.

Palma was absent from the event, as was incumbent Rep. Ed Towns, who was previously announced as a guest. But Reyna tried to make up for the absence of Barron's fellow politicians. The two held their hands high after she praised him for his work in the council.

Reyna says, as a progressive Democrat, she shares strong ties with reform Democratic clubs in Brooklyn that have almost uniformly endorsed Jeffries. Reyna didn't speak ill of Jeffries, but alluded to his compromising nature as a reason to support Barron.

"If you toe the line so often, so much, you become part of what is anti-progressive," Reyna said after the event. "I think there's no harm in sending representation that perhaps can awaken what is a sleeping giant that needs a lot of fixing."

Barron went on to spend the next few days in East New York and Bedford-Stuyvesant. His campaign publicized a Saturday morning event in Sista's Place restaurant at 456 Nostrand Ave., but closed the event to the press. The restaurant was still papered with "Charles Barron for Congress" posters on Sunday.

A few blocks away in Clinton Hill, Hakeem Jeffries attended Sunday service at Brown Memorial Baptist Church. The congregation fanned themselves in the dark walnut pews as the Rev. Clinton M. Miller stepped down from the altar to introduce Jeffries as his friend and brother before he handed the microphone over to the candidate.

"Go and tell the people to get ready, because in a few days we can take our community into the promised land of a better way of life," Jeffries said to continued applause. 

Jeffries might have spent the rest of the day visiting congregations around the district, but he spoke to a much wider audience on Saturday morning. He appeared on MSNBC to discuss marijuana reform on "Up w/ Chris Hayes" where he spoke on his work in Albany to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. 

After his appearance on cable news, Jeffries passed by the Prospect Park Bandshell where Celebrate Brooklyn hosted a free hip-hop showcase with Wu-Tang rapper Ghostface Killah. Jeffries came on stage and spoke for less than a minute, never mentioning Tuesday's election as the audience began shouting for Ghostface Killah.

"We're going to continue to stand up for Celebrate Brooklyn, stand up for Brooklyn, stand up for you, stand up for our community and stand up for our president, Barack Obama," Jeffries shouted to a smattering of applause.

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