CWA backs Hakeem Jeffries for Congress over ‘right wing’ Democrat Ed Towns

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Jeffries, with labor. (Reid Pillifant)
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On Friday afternoon, District 1 of the Communication Workers of America endorsed Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries in his primary challenge to longtime congressman Ed Towns of Brooklyn, and pledged to make the race its top priority in the congressional primaries.

"We will lead the fight inside the Working Families Party endorsement for Assemblyman Jeffries in the primary, and I think there's very serious consideration being given to a significant indendent expenditure in the race as well by labor," said Bob Master, the union's political director, after a press conference on the steps of City Hall. "Generally in Washington the labor movement is looking to find places where they can support progressives, where there's either open seats and a conservative running, or where there are Democrats that have disappointed us, and I think this is one of the races that's on that list."

Jeffries has been a reliable ally for labor interests in the Assembly, but his three union endorsements so far seem to be as much about the movement's disaffection with Towns, who (along with Gregory Meeks) provided the deciding votes for the Central American Free Trade Agreement in 2005.

"Towns has never met a trade agreement he didn't like, and has never met a trade agreement that was any good for the people in his district," said Chris Shelton, the vice president of CWA District 1. "We believe that he has crossed over at least to the right wing of the Democratic Pary."

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Jeffries said Towns has been "counterproductive" on labor issues and let down labor at a "critical time during the free trade debate."

Shelton said the union would "do everything we can do to make sure he gets elected."

"He's been with us since day one, and we take care of our friends," he said.