Last month, MoveOn.org joined a chorus of liberals and Democrats pleading with New York Democrats not to nominate Charles Barron for a safe New York City congressional seat. MoveOn sent out an email blast aimed at the radical candidate. Barron, a vicious anti-Zionist and radical supporter of dictators like Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, was political poison for the Democrats, and his defeat by the more centrist Hakeem Jeffries caused the entire party to heave a sigh of relief. But according to one of the group’s top leaders, the decision to draw a line between its activities and a hatemonger was a terrible mistake.
As JTA reports, Justin Ruben, executive director of MoveOn.org Political Action, apologized for the email blast at Barron. Calling the group’s condemnation of Barron — a candidate who was endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan’s David Duke — “offensive and inflammatory,” Ruben walked back MoveOn’s involvement in the race saying:
The email was all too reminiscent of the kind of attacks that have been used by our opponents to divide progressives over and over again — white folks from African Americans, Jews from non-Jews, recent immigrants from descendants of immigrants, etc.
Why would anyone regret being part of an effort to save the Democrats from the humiliation of nominating someone who has become the poster child for the radicalization of their party? The answer is simple. Ruben’s walk back of the attack on Barron is consistent with the group’s origins and its basic purpose.
It wasn’t even close when the AP called it last night: Democrat establishment favorite Hakeem Jeffries crushed former Black Panther Charles Barron in a landslide, 75 percent to 25 percent. The Daily News recaps:
State Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries trounced City Councilman Charles Barron in a showdown for Brooklyn’s 8th congressional district.
With 54 percent of precincts reporting, the Associated Press deemed Jeffries the easy winner, 75 percent of the vote to Barron’s 25 percent.
“The political pundits said that this was going to be a close race, but that was before the people had spoken,” Jeffries told his supporters after hearing early results. “The people spoke with one loud voice and that’s why we’re going to Washington.”
Jeffries landed almost every major endorsement, winning the backing of Sen. Chuck Schumer, Gov. Cuomo and most Democratic bigwigs.
At Tablet, Zack Beauchamp wonders whether Democrats are overreacting about former Black Panther Charles Barron’s chance of winning the Brooklyn primary race against the more moderate Hakeem Jeffries:
There is real panic among Democratic leaders that Barron might win. As far as I can tell, the fear stems from an endorsement from the seat’s former holder Ed Towns, one New York Times article touting a “Barron surge,” and the simple fear created by the anticipation of a very bad outcome. It’s not clear how much the endorsement matters and the Times article is a bit short on evidence. That’s not me saying that – the Times’ own local blog is a bit perplexed[.]
And as far as endorsements go, Jeffries has Governor Andrew Cuomo, the most high profile local papers, several important unions, a raft of significant Democrats and democratic institutions, and a wink-wink-nudge-nudge photo-op with the President. Also, Jewish voters could be critical given the district’s demographics. Since there’s been virtually no polling done on the race, I think the evidence we have to go on suggests it’s Jeffries’ race to lose.
Beauchamp’s right that by all normal measures, it probably should be Jeffries race to win. But I’m not so sure.
You would think the Congressional Black Caucus would at least have some minor quibbles with Charles Barron, the David Duke-endorsed congressional candidate who’s been denounced as “an anti-Israel, racist anti-Semite” by the National Jewish Democratic Council and criticized by legions of other Democrats. But while CBC is staying neutral on the race between Barron and Hakeem Jeffries, its chairman Rep. Emanuel Cleaver told Capital New York that he sees at least one bright side no matter which candidate wins:
“The good news is there is hardly any chance we won’t have a CBC member elected from that seat,” said Emmanuel Cleaver, a longtime congressman from Missouri who has chaired the caucus since 2010.
I asked him if he thought one of the candidates in the race might be better suited to be a new member of the CBC and serve in Congress. …
“We’re trying to stay out of it. None of us really know any of the candidates,” he said. “All we know is what we’ve been reading. Some of it is, you know, a little acidic. I was briefed yesterday, again, on this race, since I was coming up here. And we just made a decision that we were going to stay out of it.”
Yes, fine — it’s not really fair to attack New York congressional candidate Charles Barron directly for this, because as far as we know, he didn’t solicit David Duke’s endorsement. But it’s still worth mentioning because of a) The PR disaster this is going to unleash all over the closely watched Barron campaign, and the impact it has on the race; and b) The confounding mystery about how a former KKK Grand Wizard and vocal southern white supremacist could ever bring himself to endorse a pro-Black Panther, pro-reparations black man from New York City (Spoiler alert: it involves the Jews).
Former KKK Grand Wizard and member of the Louisiana Legislature David Duke released a video yesterday endorsing Charles Barron in his race for Brooklyn’s 8th congressional district against Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries. Mr. Barron, a member of the City Council and former member of the Black Panther Party who, over the years, has made a series of controversial statements against Israel and in support of African dictator Muammar Qaddafi. He would seem to be an odd choice for a self-described “white nationalist” like Mr. Duke, but in the video, Mr. Duke explains that he thinks Mr. Jeffries has “sold his soul to the international Zio-bankers” while Mr. Barron’s strong past criticisms of Israel outweigh their other differences.
“In a race for Congress between an anti-Zionist black activist and a black activist who is a bought and paid for Zionist Uncle Tom, I’ll take the anti-Zionist any day,” Mr. Duke says in the video. “In this election of limited choices, I believe that Charles Barron is the best choice. 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.”
Mr. Duke begins his video by noting that Mr. Barron has been labeled the “David Duke of New York City” by his political opponents.
As unhinged as David Duke is, you would think he’d still realize that his endorsements do the exact opposite of what endorsements are typically intended to do. Hakeem Jeffries, Barron’s opponent, is already out front denouncing Duke’s cartoonish rant about Zionist treason, Jewish-controlled media, etc.
So far, President Obama has kept his distance from the Democratic congressional primary between extremist ex-Black Panther and anti-Israel activist Charles Barron and New York assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries. But BuzzFeed reports that the White House is now quietly signaling its support for Jeffries:
A second senior Democrat, who is close to the White House, noted that the administration had quietly sent its own message: Jeffries, a lawyer who has drawn union opposition for his support for charter schools, was invited to a fundraiser for President Obama at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City two weeks ago, to have his photograph taken with Obama and Clinton — a valuable piece of campaign literature in a heavily African-American district.
Obama does not endorse candidates for open seats Democratic primaries, but the president “wished him luck on the race,” the first Democratic official confirmed.
If you’re unfamiliar with Charles Barron, a Democrat running for Congress in New York, read the Anti-Defamation League’s enlightening dossier. Barron is an extremist, dictator apologist and a passionate Israel-basher, who has railed against the “Jewish lobby,” called Gaza a “death camp” and aligned himself with anti-Semitic hate groups. He’s currently embroiled in a nail-biter primary race against Hakeem Jeffries.
While Barron might actually beat Jeffries on his own, it’s hard to imagine that any mainstream Democratic institution would lend him a hand in the primary. But as BuzzFeed reports, federal labor unions are actually planning to go to bat for him:
Two major city public worker unions, District Councils 37 and 1707 of the giant American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, have already endorsed Barron against Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, a relatively moderate legislator who has championed charter schools, a union bugaboo.
And BuzzFeed has learned that their powerful federal parent union, known as AFSCME, is planning to dive into the race on Barron’s behalf. Another key New York State public workers union, the Civil Service Employees Association, meanwhile, blocked an AFL-CIO effort to endorse Barron’s rival.
“We respect the voice of our members,” AFSCME spokesman Chris Policano told BuzzFeed. “With the unanimous endorsement of the three affiliates, there will be money spent in this race.”
If AFSCME is willing to pour money behind a candidate who has praised Qaddafi and has called the Israeli government “the biggest terrorist in the world,” then who would it not support? If an avowed white supremacist ran for Congress on a pro-union platform, could he expect AFSCME’s financial backing as well?