Labor Boosts Mugabe Lover, Israel Foe Charles Barron In New York

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Reporting on Politics and Policy.
June 12 2012 10:37 AM

Labor Boosts Mugabe Lover, Israel Foe Charles Barron In New York

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NEW YORK, NY - JULY 05: New York City Council member Charles Barron speaks during The Monumental 5 Press Conference on the steps of New York City Hall on July 5, 2011 in New York City. The Monumental 5 are 5 individuals who are reported to have been victims of police brutality at a record release party for Hip Hop artist Pete Rock and General Steele on Tuesday June 28, 2011.

Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images

He was called a "malignant clown" by the Daily News this weekend, but New York City Councilman Charles Barron, the controversial Brooklyn Democrat who last year mourned Muammar Qaddafi and hosted Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe at City Hall (and who has called Israel "the biggest terrorist in the world") is getting a big financial boost from local labor unions in his bid for Congress. Ben Smith at Buzzfeed has the scoop:

Two major city public worker unions, District Councils 37 and 1707 of the giant American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, have already endorsed Barron against Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, a relatively moderate legislator who has championed charter schools, a union bugaboo.

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And BuzzFeed has learned that their powerful federal parent union, known as AFSCME, is planning to dive into the race on Barron's behalf. Another key New York State public workers union, the Civil Service Employees Association, meanwhile, blocked an AFL-CIO effort to endorse Barron's rival.

"We respect the voice of our members," AFSCME spokesman Chris Policano told BuzzFeed. "With the unanimous endorsement of the three affiliates, there will be money spent in this race.

Even as public sector unions remain on the defensive nationally in the wake of a stinging rebuke in the Wisconsin recall, we shouldn't be surprised they're going with the more economically populist (if also outrageous) candidate in this local race. New York City unions were actively involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement, and have been frustrated by a relatively hostile Democratic Governor in Andrew Cuomo.

Matt Taylor is a reporter living in Brooklyn. He was the political correspondent for the National Memo and a staff reporter at his hometown newspaper, The East Hampton Star. He's a contributor to Newsweek/The Daily Beast. You can reach him on Twitter @matthewt_ny

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