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March 2, 2011

How Hakeem Jeffries Became the Barack of Brooklyn

NY Observer
by David Freedlander

The parishioners and many far beyond central Brooklyn have been expecting bigger and better things from Hakeem Jeffries since before he was even a candidate for the Assembly. His funky first name, his appeal to both black churchgoers and earnest reform types and his academic pedigree-graduate degree from Georgetown University, law degree from N.Y.U.-have earned him the label "Brooklyn's Barack."

Mr. Jeffries has been a shrewd political operator-his detractors see him as overly calculating-since he finally won the Assembly seat, in 2006. He is a favorite of Brooklyn political boss Vito Lopez, but he is also close to a group of reformers who want to oust Mr. Lopez. He has come down in the middle of the heated fight over Atlantic Yards. His district includes some of the most rapidly gentrifying parts of Brooklyn, including Fort Green, Prospect Heights and Clinton Hill, but he has made a name for himself racking up legislative victories on issues that may matter more to the desperately poor precincts that surround those neighborhoods, including the outlawing of the NYPD's stop-and-frisk database.

If he takes on Mr. Towns in '12, he could have a clear shot at the longtime congressman. If he waits, he could see a Congressional district redrawn to better suit his political base, but he could face the prospect of running in a crowded primary that would feature not only Ms. James, but also Councilman Charles Barron.


NoLandGrab: And neither Tish James, nor Charles Barron, for that matter, have "come down in the middle" regarding Atlantic Yards — both have firmly opposed it.

Posted by eric at March 2, 2011 12:10 PM