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Rep. Jeffries, endorsing Clinton, takes swipe at de Blasio

From left to right, House Democrats Rep. Yvette

From left to right, House Democrats Rep. Yvette Clarke, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries and Rep. Gregory Meeks on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, endorse Hillary Rodham Clinton for president with a news conference at City Hall. Credit: Newsday / Emily Ngo

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries endorsed Hillary Rodham Clinton for president Tuesday while taking digs at the travels to early primary states of Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has yet to offer Clinton his support.

"Hillary Clinton is an authentic progressive," the Brooklyn congressman said at a City Hall news conference.

When asked about de Blasio's lack of endorsement so far, Jeffries mocked a forum the mayor has planned in Iowa City, Iowa, on Dec. 6 for presidential candidates to speak on income inequality.

"It's not necessarily my place to determine his timetable," Jeffries said. "It's not clear to me, however, that a town-hall meeting in the cornfields of Iowa has anything to do with the quality of life of everyday New Yorkers. We've got income inequality here. We've got an affordable housing crisis here. We've got a homeless crisis here."

De Blasio spokeswoman Karen Hinton responded in a statement: "Issues being debated among the presidential candidates have everything to do with the quality of life of everyday New Yorkers."

City Hall watchers have speculated that Jeffries could become a challenger to de Blasio's re-election in 2017. Jeffries, who has locked horns with the mayor on police reform and charter schools, said he was not considering a City Hall run "at this point."

"I wouldn't take him lightly," said Kenneth Sherrill, an emeritus professor of political science at Hunter College. "He's hardworking. He has broad support including support that the mayor usually would count on," such as black New Yorkers, Brooklynites and "intellectual liberals," Sherrill said.

Jeffries was joined by fellow House Democrats Yvette Clarke of Brooklyn and Gregory Meeks of Queens in backing Clinton. Asked if he invited de Blasio to also stand with him, Jeffries quipped: "I didn't know if the mayor was in town or not."

Jeffries, Clarke and Meeks all are members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Meeks said Clinton has spoken to the "issues that are important to the people of the African-American community."


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