Politico is reporting Democrats are scrambling to make sure that former Black Panther and New York City Councilman Charles Barron does not win the Democratic primary today. His primary opponent, Hakeem Jeffries, reportedly already knew Barron was competitive enough to win New York’s newly drawn 8th CD. An open seat became available when Democrat Edolphus Towns decided to retire. Barron won Towns’s endorsement :
For the past decade, as a New York City councilman, Barron has represented about a quarter of the new 8th Congressional District. And in a previous run for the House seat, he received about 37 percent of the vote. Despite a long history of making controversial statements about whites, Jews and homosexuals, Barron’s supporters are fiercely loyal to him. Press reports have described the campaign as “surging,” and the possibility that low voter turnout will play to Barron’s benefit has raised the blood pressure of the Democratic establishment.
“We always have taken Charles Barron seriously,” said Jeffries spokeswoman Lupe Todd. “What I don’t agree with is the notion that he is surging; there’s just no evidence of it.” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel; both of the state’s senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand; and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are just the latest Democratic heavyweights to throw their support behind Jeffries. It’s hard to tell if there’s a reason for them to be worried: There’s been no independent polling in the district, and Jeffries, a New York assemblyman, has raised $770,445 to Barron’s $113,640 — two-fifths of Barron’s total is from himself.
Barron is seen as politically toxic to Democrats given his past actions and rhetoric. Politico points out that he called Israel, “the biggest terrorist in the world,” and has compared the situation in Gaza to a “concentration death camp.” He supported Muammar Qadhafi and called the now late dictator a “freedom fighter.” Mr. Mugabe made national news in 2002 when he welcomed genocidal Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe to New York City Hall.
I asked Mr. Barron in 2010, when he ran for governor of New York, if he believed the Mugabe controversy would hurt him politically.
“I don’t think it’s a controversy. Look at all the atrocities happening here in America and in New Orleans. People are not bailing them out. Atrocities happen in every nation in the world. So I think that I am proud for a head of state from Africa to New York City. I think what you don’t know about Zimbabwe and the real problem with Zimbabwe is that he [Mugabe] has taken back the land from those whites who stole it from him and some people don’t like that.” Listen to Mr. Barron here.
In a bizarre set of circumstances, though, Barron received the endorsement of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. The Wall Street Journal reports:
Former KKK leader David Duke ventured into New York politics last week, endorsing former Black Panther Charles Barron in Tuesday’s Democratic primary for the 8th congressional district, covering parts of Brooklyn and Queens. Consider it an air kiss from one hatemonger on the margins of politics to another whose political prospects are—amazingly enough—not bad.
“I believe that Charles Barron is the best choice,” said Mr. Duke in his video endorsement. “Why? Because I think there’s no greater danger facing the United States of America and facing the world than the unbridled power of Zionist globalism. Charles Barron stands against that power. If I lived in New York City, I would certainly vote for Charles Barron.”
Should Mr. Barron win the Democratic primary today, he might as well pack his bags for Washington. Democratic primary wins in Manhattan are usually final coronations, given Democratic voter registrations heavily outweigh Republican in the borough. Interesting how such coronations in Manhattan could work could work against the Democratic Party if Jeffries loses tonight.