By Eric Goldschein
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Congressional candidate Hakeem Jeffries withdrew on Friday from participation in a campaign debate scheduled for Monday night.
The debate was to pit Assemblyman Jeffries against his Democratic rival, Councilman Charles Barron. Jeffries and Barron are vying for the Democratic nomination for the 8th Congressional District seat being vacated by retiring 15-term Rep. Ed Towns.
Jeffries, considered the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination in the June 26 primary, was displeased at the last-minute inclusion of non-Democrat candidates.
Now, Green Party candidate Colin Beavan and presumed Republican standard-bearer Alan Bellone — neither of whom are on the June 26 ballot — will debate Barron at the Brooklyn Music School, 126 Saint Felix St., at 7:30 p.m.
“Given the addition of two candidates who will not appear on the ballot this June, and the confusion this poses to the electorate, we are declining the invitation at this time," Jeffries' campaign said in a statement. "Should the people decide to select Assemblyman Jeffries as the Democratic nominee, he looks forward to participating in a debate with the other general election candidates in the fall.”
"He's still debating Mr. Barron in East New York on Thursday," Jerffries' spokesperson said, and will tape a debate to be cablecast on NY1 on Monday at 7 and 10 p.m.
The original debate was being sponsored by the Fort Greene Association and The New York Times' Fort Greene-Clinton Hill Local blog. The Times blog dropped its participation after the association unilaterally agreed to the Beavan campaign's request for a seat at the table.
“We have an election on June 26, it is not a general election,” Local editor Gersh Kuntzman told the Fort Greene Association. “This decision [to include non-candidates] is … a repudiation of the Democratic process that pits Mr. Jeffries and Mr. Barron — and no one else.”
The association had no comment on the situation to the Brooklyn Eagle, except to stress that the debate would go on as planned.