Commentary Magazine


Topic: Emanuel Cleaver

Congressional Black Caucus Sees “Good News” Even if Barron Wins

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.”

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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.”

Cleaver says some of what he’s been reading about the race has been “a little acidic.” Is he referring to Barron’s comparison of Gaza to a “death camp” and his rants about the “Jewish lobby”? If so, it’s unfortunate that Cleaver, a former civil rights leader, wouldn’t specify Barron by name. The CBC’s neutrality in the race is notable among national Democrats, who have been coming out against Barron in droves during the last week or so:

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.

“It’s really become a race to watch, because it’s impossible to know what’s going to happen,” said Doug Muzzio, a political analyst and professor of public affairs at Baruch College, although he still thinks Jeffries will win. “Barron has been a prominent voice for the African-American community and has a lot of support, but the key question is do people think he’ll be effective in Washington?”

Tomorrow’s primary race will be watched closely around the country, and not just by Democratic politicians. The Emergency Committee for Israel has released a new ad educating voters about Barron’s history of hatemongering. There have been no independent polls showing Barron with a lead, and the Jeffries campaign maintains there’s no reason to believe Barron is surging. But Democrats have been growing exceedingly nervous the past week, which indicates that the race is very tight in internal polling.

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