The Kovners, Giske and Ellner co-host cocktails for ‘rising star’ Jeffries

Hakeem Jeffries talks to constituents. (via Jeffries' website.)
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Brooklyn congressional candidate Hakeem Jeffries was dubbed a "rising star" in yesterday's local power spread in the Metropolitan section of the New York Times, which Jeffries' campaign duly emailed to supporters today.

But a better measure of Jeffries' star power is in another link in the same email, to a cocktail reception at the home of Victor and Sarah Kovner.

Jeffries isn't exactly hurting for money, having raised $516,000 through the end of March, for what was supposed to have been a difficult primary against the longtime incumbent Ed Towns, who dropped out last month. His remaining opponent, Charles Barron, has dismissed the importance of fund-raising and only plans to raise $125,000.

But whether he needs the money or not, the imprimatur of a Kovner-hosted reception says something about the extent of his embrace by the city's moneyed Democratic establishment.

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The Kovners are among the city's most influential fund-raisers; they currently rank in the top bracket of President Obama's biggest bundlers, having raised more than half a million dollars so far. They appear to be recent converts to Jeffries' cause, hosting the cocktail hour and another lunch reception at Microsoft, after never giving to any of his Assembly campaigns.

They're joined on the host committee for the cocktail event by Craig Kaplan and Anne Hess, another influential couple, who, like the Kovners, regularly host Democratic candidates from across the country. (Hess has raised somewhere between $200,000 to $500,000 for the president.)

Also listed as co-hosts are Brian Ellner, who helped lead the push for same-sex marriage last year; Emily Giske, the powerful lobbyist and close friend of Council Speaker Christine Quinn; and Corey Johnson, a prominent gay-rights activist and City Council candidate whose story of coming out to his high school football team was featured in the Times and by Rick Reilly in Sports Illustrated.