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Hakeem Jeffries Easily Beats Charles Barron in 8th District

By  Jill Colvin Sonja Sharp Janet Upadhye and Julie  Shapiro | June 26, 2012 11:01pm | Updated on June 27, 2012 12:45am

Election Results 2012
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Billy Figueroa

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries trounced firebrand City Councilman Charles Barron Tuesday night in the Democratic primary to represent Brooklyn's 8th Congressional District.

With 98 percent of districts reporting, Jeffries was leading with 71.9 percent of the vote, compared to Barron's 28.1 percent — a far wider margin than many had expected.

"The political pundits said this was going to be a close race, but that was before the people had spoken," Jeffries told supporters at a victory party at Sanders Studios on Wavery Avenue after news of the win broke.

"All across this district, from Bedford-Stuyvesant to Brighton Beach, from Clinton Hill to Canarsie to Coney Island, from Ozone Park to Oceanhill, Brownsville, the people spoke in one loud voice and that’s why we’re going to Washington, D.C.," he said.

At a gathering with his own supporters, a defiant Barron refused to congratulate Jeffries and instead accused him running a dishonest campaign.

"I will not be giving a congratulatory statement to my opponent tonight because of the campaign that he ran and the character assassinations that he performed on another black man," said Barron, who vowed that "when the dust clears, the people will see that the fight has just begun."

"Something bigger than a political movement was established here tonight. We built a movement of the people," he said.

Jeffries and Barron had waged a heated battle to replace longtime Rep. Ed Towns, who announced in April that he would not seek reelection. The race appeared to be neck-and-neck heading into primary day, giving Democratic officials a scare that that Barron might defeat the party favorite.

Resident Claudia Hunter, 63, said Jeffries impressed her with his grassroots involvement in the community.

"He's very involved with families," Hunter said. "I know he'll do a lot as far as families are concerned, leading by example."

Bishop Curtis Ross, of the Church of God in Christ, 81, said Jeffries has a better leadership style than Barron, who is known for antagonizing people.

"Barron is a rough rider," Ross said outside the polling station at 930 Halsey St. "He's one of those guys that loves to yell like a Burmese bull. I think the other guy [Jeffries] is better suited for the office."

Ross added, "Jeffries is a quiet man, but symbolically a strong man in mind and will. Barron is just a pure hellion."

Barron, a former Black Panther Party member who has equated Israelis with Nazis, is widely seen as a loose cannon, and was endorsed last week by former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke.

But Barron appeared to receive a surge of support from Brooklyn residents in the last weeks of the campaign, terrifying Democratic leaders in Washington and in the city, who had expected a lopsided victory in Jeffries' favor during the early weeks of the campaign.

Some voters said Tuesday that they were impressed by Barron's fighting spirit and his advocacy on behalf of Brooklyn's working poor.

"He understands the plight of the hard-working person," said Shani Newsome, 36, a public school teacher who voted in Bedford-Stuyvesant. "Even with all this gentrification, you still have a lot of people trying to survive in the working class."

Marian Mays, a senior citizen who has lived in Fort Greene her whole life, said she felt Barron was a candidate she could trust.

"I see him out in the community,” she said. "He is a fighter for the people.”

Barron spent primary day in East New York visiting polling stations and also found time to speak to the 8th grade graduates of George Gershwin Junior High School with his wife, Inez, where the two later rapped some words of wisdom to the students while the marching band played behind them.

"He told us to stay in school and take our education seriously," said student Jahlaisia Smith, 19, who added that she was inspired by his speech. "He also told the boys to always respect women when they grow up."

While the general election for the 8th Congressional District seat is not until November, the winner of the Democratic primary is widely expected to sweep the overwhelmingly Democratic district, which stretches from central Brooklyn all the way to Coney Island and Brighton Beach.

With reporting by Jesse Lent