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.
Obama posing for a picture with Jeffries at a fundraiser may seem like a pretty lame gesture of public support, but consider the fact that most guests at the Waldorf Astoria event that night had to pay $15,000 for the same privilege. Still, it’s hard to believe Obama couldn’t do more if he really wanted to show support for Jeffries, even if his policy is to only endorse incumbent Democrats in primaries. And at a time when many Democratic candidates are running away from Obama, this particular congressional primary is one where the president’s backing actually carries a lot of weight (in a good way).
For instance, Obama didn’t officially endorse anyone in the recent runoff between Democratic Reps. Steve Rothman and Bill Pascrell. But he still made it clear he was backing Rothman, even sending David Axelrod to New Jersey to campaign for him.
Will Obama make a similar move in the race between Jeffries and Barron? Or is he reluctant to publicly snub Barron — an extremist street-protest agitator — in case it further strains tension between him and the black activist community?