Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries lashed out at City Councilman Charles Barron today in a brief phone interview with The Politicker.
“I’m confused,” Mr. Jeffries said when reached by phone after having just arrived back in New York from the annual Somos conference in Puerto Rico. ”Does Charles Barron want to be governor, mayor, borough president, City Council Speaker or radical apologist for rogue international dictators? I guess the answer is all of the above.”
The statement was a reference to the numerous offices that Mr. Barron has pursued or considered pursing since he was elected to the City Council in 2001. Mr. Barron’s most recent run however is the one that has caught Mr. Jeffries attention. Last week Mr. Barron said that he was forming an exploratory committee to pursue a run against incumbent Brooklyn Congressman Ed Towns, a race that Mr. Jeffries is already an all-but-declared candidate in.
Also last week, Mr. Barron slammed Mr. Jeffries, telling The Politicker that Mr. Jeffries was too close to Brooklyn Democratic Party powerbroker Vito Lopez and to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Mr. Jeffries said he didn’t know if Mr. Barron would actually go through with this race, but took the chance to take a shot at Mr. Barron’s dismal showing in 2010 governor’s race, in which he was able to secure even fewer votes than Jimmy McMillan, leader of the Rent is Too Damn High Party.
“There are only two certainties about this congressional race,” he said. “First I can learn a lot from Jimmy McMillan about how to beat Charles Barron. Second, Charles Barron has the market cornered on the pro-Gadhafi vote. I admit—I can not effectively compete with him in that area.”
The last bit was a reference to comment Mr. Barron made last week praising the ousted Libyan dictator.
Mr. Barron told The Politicker that in a three way race with him, Mr. Towns and Mr. Jeffries he is sure to win since Mr. Barron has a solid 36 percent of the vote that he garnered in 2006 when he ran, and that his opponents will split the remaining vote.
Mr. Jeffries disagreed.
“My legislative record of accomplishment on issues that he often talks about in areas of police reform, drug policy, the prison industrial complex and gun violence speaks for itself and will ultimately be a matter for the voters to decide upon,” he said.
And Mr. Jeffries refused to predict if Mr. Barron enters this race, or take a pass after making a lot of noise, as he has done in the past.
“I am not in the business of predicting which office Charles Barron may run for in a given year,” he said. “There are so many that he has pursued and pontificated about over the last decade. It is clear that if he spent less time attacking other elected officials we might actually be able to collectively work together to address the real issues affecting the communities we represent. Hope springs eternal, but I am not holding my breath.”