While he won't come out and say that he is going to challenge longtime Congressman Ed Towns in 2012, it hasn't gone unnoticed that the exploratory committee Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries set up to look into a potential run for Congress has transformed into a full-blown “Jeffries for Congress” fundraising machine. And we do mean machine!
In the last quarter, Jeffries reported raising approximately $173,000, which certainly isn't chump change, especially when you compare those figures to his potential opponent.
For the same time period, Towns reported raising about $69,000, which he adds to the $53,000 that he already hand in his account. But with expenses topping $100,000, published reports state that Towns really only has approximately $11,000 in his account right now to mount a campaign.
Those fundraising numbers alone should make Towns a little bit worried about his 28-year stint in Congress coming to an end. Not only is Jeffries crushing him when it comes to money, Jeffries is a well-liked politician, who manages to not only get along well with Brooklyn Democratic boss - fellow assemblyman Vito Lopez - but has a good relationship with the younger, progressive upstarts that have been infiltrating the party in recent years. A difficult fence to straddle, indeed.
Towns has said that he will run for re-election regardless of who is running against him or how much money he has to spend on a campaign. In addition to Jeffries possibly running, Councilman Charles Barron is also reportedly considering a challenge. Barron lost a similar bid for the seat in 2006.
We're not ones for making predictions unless they're wildly off-base, but we would put the smart money - all $173,000 of it! - on Jeffries to run and give Towns quite a challenge.
Incidentally, Towns political cache in the borough has taken a hit as of late. This past summer, his daughter Deidra came in third in a three-way election for the Assembly, a rare feat in Brooklyn, a political world known for its nepotism. Shocking as well, considering the seat belonged to his son Darryl, who vacated it to join the Cuomo administration. Oh yeah, did we mention that Darryl pled guilt to a D,U.I. Charge last month?
Jeffries could kowtow to the elder Towns, and at least wait for 2014 to make a run, allowing Towns a few years to either decide he wants a political fight every two years or would rather just leave on his own terms. But we think that Jeffries has to strike while his hand is hot. It doesn't take much for political popularity to take a quick nosedive in this city.