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Obama versus Hillary on Brooklyn streets - Borough looms large in presidential slugfest

The ground troops of Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are being laid for a full frontal assault of Brooklyn ahead of the state’s Feb. 5 Democratic primary. “We are headed for a showdown on the streets of Brooklyn, which has the largest numbers of registered Democrats of any county in New York State, so this is where the showdown is really going to take place,” said Assembly-member Hakeem Jeffries, an Obama supporter. Besides voter registration, the borough should also come into play in that the state presidential primary awards convention delegates on a percentage of votes rather than a winner-take-all basis. So a close showing from either Clinton or Obama in Brooklyn – even if it’s second place – could mean extra delegates. Either way, both camps are gearing up for the primary. Clinton spokesperson Blake Zeff noted that Clinton is the home state favorite daughter and racked up a convincing re-election 2006 Senate win with 67 percent of the vote. Clinton also won 90 percent of the state counties that Bush won in his 2004 election, and has the support of the entire state Congressional delegation. This includes Brooklyn Reps. Anthony Weiner, Yvette Clarke, Jerrold Nadler and Nydia Velazquez. Still, Zeff said the Clinton camp is taking nothing for granted and has built a grassroots network of 1,700 New York women called “ambassadors,” who hold debate parties and coordinate email campaign news/updates to their e-mails lists, and do phone and volunteer lists in the office. Additionally, Clinton state director Karen Persichili Keogh has put in calls to key operatives to enact plans for the primary, said Zeff. Zeff said the Clinton campaign also has strong phone banks and visibility operations and last week had over five dozen volunteers a day in their New York headquarters. Not to be outdone, the Brooklyn for Barack Chair Jackie Esposito said volunteers are pouring into the Obama state headquarters at 130 Fulton Street in Manhattan. “It looks great in Brooklyn. We have volunteers in staging locations that we use for field work and the operation is growing every day,” said Esposito. Esposito noted the Obama camp has delegates running in every Brooklyn congressional district and looks to send some to the August Democratic Presidential Convention in Denver, CO. “I am convinced that we are going to be very happy with the results on February 5 based on overwhelming support we’ve seen in Brooklyn the last couple of months,” said Esposito. Local elected officials are also lining up behind either of the two candidates. Among those in the Obama camp are Jeffries along with fellow Assembly-member Karim Camara, and State Senators John Sampson, Kevin Parker and Eric Adams. “If Brooklyn residents want a President who will bring people together, and restore the public’s confidence in the ability of government to get things done, then I urge you to join the Obama campaign and help us change America,” said Jeffries. Among the strong supporters in the Clinton camp are City Councilmember and borough president candidate Bill de Blasio, who helped campaign for Clinton in Iowa. “Hillary is in a good position to do a lot for New York State and Brooklyn. We have a rare chance for a New Yorker to be president. In recent years the presidency has gone to candidates from the south and the west. It’s very important to have a leading candidate from New York in the race let alone she’s the best candidate,” said de Blasio. Borough President Marty Markowitz, although a Clinton supporter, said whoever gets the Democratic nod to run for president is a win-win for the borough and the country. “I’m confident our favorite daughter will win in Brooklyn and I’m supporting Hillary, but if by chance things work out that voters in my party choose Barack Obama, I’d be proud to support his efforts for sure,” said Markowitz. “Either way I’m hoping the Republicans select Huckabee. I think he’s an honorable man and I think it would be wonderful contest between Democrats and Huckabee,” he added.

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