Democratic Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries easily won the primary to succeed retiring Rep. Ed Towns, D-N.Y., in the state's 8th Congressional District Tuesday night.
The Associated Press called the race at 10:40 p.m. With 47 percent of precincts reporting, Jeffries led with 74 percent of the vote to New York City Councilman Charles Barron's 26 percent.
After late endorsements by Towns and several unions, Barron generated increased scrutiny and national attention to his long history of inflammatory statements, most notably about Israel. That sparked a wave of panic among Jewish groups, national Democratic organizations and New York's Democratic officeholders, which supported Jeffries aggressively and opposed Barron, a former Black Panther, in the late stages of the campaign.
Jeffries's comfortable win suggests the rising Democratic star probably didn't need the wave of late help, though plenty of outside groups will surely take credit for helping defeat Barron. The Democratic nominee's strong campaign helped push Towns, a 15-term incumbent, into retirement earlier this year. Though Barron does have loyal pockets of support in certain Brooklyn neighborhoods, and though Jeffries always took him seriously as an opponent, Barron never had a great opportunity to expand his small coalition against a well-funded opponent.
In the end, it wasn't in Jeffries's interest to subdue the panic of the last few weeks; he raised over a quarter-million dollars in donations of $1,000 or more since June 7, and he probably banked a significantly higher total overall. The Democratic nominee's post-primary Federal Election Commission reports will be worth examining, both for the complete fundraising number and to see how much cash the Jeffries campaign actually spent while the Democratic establishment fretted in the final weeks of a race that didn't end up being all that close.
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