Controversial New York City councilman Charles Barron may be getting closer to winning the Democratic nomination to Congress in New York's Eighth District next Tuesday. The New York Times reports:
Considered an afterthought when he announced his candidacy for the United States Congress last November — in a speech in which he called Muammar el-Qaddafi “my hero” and pledged to never salute the American flag — Democratic leaders are now fretfully talking about a prospect they once considered unthinkable: a Congressman Barron.
His opponent, Hakeem S. Jeffries, a state assemblyman and self-styled conciliator who has raised far more money and received far more support from the political establishment, was expected to coast to victory. So there was surprise when Mr. Barron picked up the endorsement of the city’s largest public employees union and the blessing of the man he wants to replace, Representative Edolphus Towns, who will retire. With 10 days to go before the Democratic primary, it has became clear that Mr. Barron is gaining traction, with the help of a passionate voter base in the historically black Brooklyn neighborhoods where his roots run deep.
There are signs of panic among members of the Democratic establishment, who worry Mr. Barron could prove to be a headache in their ranks and an alienating figure on the national stage.
Popular Democrats abruptly emerged this week to denounce him as a dangerous, anti-Israel radical. Edward I. Koch, the former mayor, called him a viper; other community leaders pointed reporters to the Anti-Defamation League’s list of his more provocative quotes; and in an e-mail to supporters this week, a local group of Russian Jews announced a hastily planned rally on Monday to denounce Mr. Barron as “a fringe radical and anti-Semitic, anti-Israel activist.” The first word of the subject line said it all: EMERGENCY.
Joining Koch in opposing Barron and supporting Jeffries are New York Democratic congressmen Jerrold Nadler and Steve Israel, as well as New York junior senator Kirsten Gillibrand. The Times has also endorsed Jeffries in an editorial, calling Barron an "embarrassing ideologue."
Senior senator Chuck Schumer has yet to weigh in on the race, and his Senate office has not yet responded to multiple calls for comment.
One wonders whether a powerhouse Democrat, such as Bill Clinton, will enter the district to take a stand against Democrat Barron ahead of next week's primary.