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Barron vs. Jeffries

Retiring Rep. Ed Towns endorses Charles Barron in House race

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Councilman Charles Barron landed the endorsement of retiring Rep. Ed Towns, giving the charismatic and controversial Canarsie politician a major boost in his House race against state Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries.

Towns (D–Fort Greene) gave his blessing to Barron on Sunday, saying he hopes the firebrand pol will succeed him in Congress because of his history as a political maverick.

“Independent voices are needed more than ever in today’s political environment,” Towns said in a statement. “That’s why I am giving my support to Charles Barron who has been an independent voice over the years. He is unselfish and is definitely has the interests of the people of this district at heart.”

Barron — a former Black Panther who ran an impressive but ultimately unsuccessful 2006 campaign against Towns — said his campaign is experiencing a “momentum swing.”

“He is extremely powerful and influential and I am tremendously appreciative,” said Barron. “We go back a ways — we knew even if we were on different sides of the political fence, we needed to unite for the district.”

The sitting lawmaker’s backing is a coup for Barron, who also picked up the support of the city’s largest public employee union, DC 37, last week.

Jeffries, the presumed frontrunner, has racked up a slew of support from unions, public officials, and church leaders over the past two months throughout the district, which stretches from Fort Greene to Canarsie and now includes Coney Island, Mill Basin, Marine Park, and Flatlands thanks to recently redrawn boundary lines.

Both candidates appeared to be courting Towns’s endorsement by campaigning for change in Washington while sparing the incumbent of much criticism.

But Barron says it was a mutual rival more than kind words that won him the endorsement.

The outspoken Councilman says he earned Towns’s nod in part because of the incumbent’s feud with Brooklyn Democratic Party boss Vito Lopez, who backs Jeffries.

Lopez stymied Towns’s bid to succeed his son, Darryl Towns, as a Democratic district leader in Bushwick last year, reigniting tensions between the powerful rivals that date back decades.

“It’s important that we don’t have a person that Vito controls — it’s not good for our district,” said Barron. “Both of us are concerned with Vito’s influence. It will have a detrimental impact.”

A Jeffries spokesman said Towns’s endorsement of Barron was not a surprise when reached on Sunday and said the nod shows his rival “consummating a shotgun marriage with a sworn political enemy.”

“Hakeem Jeffries spent today in Albany with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly advancing meaningful marijuana arrest reform legislation that will dramatically improve the lives of tens of thousands of New Yorkers each year,” said Jeffries spokeswoman Lupe Todd. “The contrast couldn’t be any clearer.

Democratic District Leader Chris Owens (D–Prospect Heights), who is not backing anyone in the race, says the endorsement is a big deal for Barron.

“It helps Barron with senior citizens who are the most likely to vote in parts of the district where Ed and Charles are known but where Hakeem is unknown,” he said. “Turnout is going to be very low, so every vote matters.”

Updated 7:45 pm, June 4, 2012: Story updated to include a response from the Jeffries campaign.
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Reader Feedback

Sal from East New York says:
Barron — a former Black Panther is racist.
June 4, 2012, 11:45 am
Ben from Greenpoint says:
looser looser = loosers....
June 4, 2012, 1:21 pm
Joey from Clinton Hills says:
at least Barron has a point of view. In my opinion, Jeffries is just an empty suit...not much different than a better looking Ed Towns.
June 4, 2012, 1:44 pm
David Brown from LES says:
The thought of Barron winning is frightening. He is a person who basically despises white people, and free market economics. People like him and Obama are why the Democratic Party no longer represent the average person.
June 4, 2012, 2:22 pm
GreenGenes from Bushwick says:
As a white person who has met with Charles Barron, I wouldn't call him a racist. He'd been friendly towards my white activist friends in East NY. Basically he is put off by whites who don't acknowledge institutional racism which is still rampant.

I do wonder if Towns' endorsement is just symbolic or if he's going to commit material resources that Barron badly needs if he's to have a chance of winning this.

Personally I'd consider Towns at the other end of the Democratic Party spectrum when it comes to fighting big money politics.

I'm also not a fan of the somewhat Machiavellian machinations going on in the Kings County Democratic Party. That's why I'm ultimately supporting Colin Beavan, Green Party candidate.
June 4, 2012, 4:21 pm
Loopy from Brooklyn says:
Non sequitur of the day:

"Hakeem Jeffries spent today in Albany with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly advancing meaningful marijuana arrest reform legislation that will dramatically improve the lives of tens of thousands of New Yorkers each year,” said Jeffries spokeswoman Lupe Todd. “The contrast couldn’t be any clearer."

What a hero!
June 4, 2012, 11:24 pm
harriet from brooklyn says:
Barron still considers himself a Black Panther, last I checked.
June 4, 2012, 11:28 pm
Raf from Brooklyn says:
I love Mr. Barron, power to the people.
June 5, 2012, 9:59 am
Eddie from Mill Basin says:
Barron is a racist, who needs a new job due to term limits for City council members. If Barron were white he'd be in the Klan. he's trash.
June 5, 2012, 11:31 am
Tired of Institutional Racists from Fort Greene says:
Barron is a "people" representative who doesn't go along to get along. As someone stated, he is not the Institutional Racism (IR) passivist that have basically all but blackballed fair employment practices for educated American Blacks! I'm surprised and happy for the Towns endorsement for Barron. I wish Jeffries would remain in the State Assembly for another five to seven years. He's just learning the game, for the IRs who want him out of the State Assy, your game is played.
June 5, 2012, 2:37 pm

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