If Bedford-Stuyvesant proves to be the bellwether district in deciding the 10th Congressional District race, then City Councilman Charles Barron likes his chances.
Barron, along with incumbent Rep. Ed Towns and Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries are all vying for the seat in the district that covers a wide swath of Brooklyn. Pundits believe that if each candidate covers their base constituency then the vote in Bed-Stuy could decide the election.
“The people of Bed-Stuy need a voice in Washington to stand up to both the Democrats and Republicans. Both Towns and Jeffries say they are unifiers. But look what bipartisanship got us. It got us the Iraq War and lifted a cap on $3 trillion worth of services that cut Medicaid and Medicare,” said Barron.
Barron said while it is easy for both Towns and Jeffries to jump aboard the Obama bandwagon, he will question the president on why the unemployment rate for African-Americans is 16 percent – nearly double the national unemployment rate and what will he do to bring these numbers more in line.
“Obama will carry New York City so the question isn’t how much support are we going to give Obama. The question is how much is Obama going to support us?” said Barron.
While Barron said he likes his chances in Bed-Stuy, his campaign will be run on a relative shoestring. He said he expects to raise about $150,000 total – well below the expected large election war chests of both Town and Jeffries.
Then again, Barron narrowly lost to Towns in a three-way race in 2006, when former Assemblyman Roger Green played a spoiler role.
In that election Towns carried Bed-Stuy by about 200 votes in roughly 2,500 votes cast, according to Barron.
In this election, though, Jeffries is stronger than Green in that the former self-proclaimed reformer now has the backing of powerful Kings County Democratic boss Vito Lopez and his network of political clubs. This includes Bed-Stuy’s Vanguard Independent Democratic Association (VIDA) club.
VIDA tabs Cornegy President
Speaking of the Vanguard Independent Democratic Association (VIDA), the powerful Bed-Stuy political club picked Democratic District Leader Robert Cornegy as it’s new president – a move that several independent Democratic sources say is more like an “anointment”.
Cornegy was handpicked by City Councilman Al Vann several years ago when he suddenly dropped out of the Democratic Assembly District Leader race and appointed Cornegy to replace him without opposition.
Cornegy was also on the inside when Vann swapped his former state assembly seat with former City Councilwoman Annette Robinson when she was term limited out of office.
Now with strong rumors that Robinson is going to retire, Cornegy said he’s going to run for her 56th District Assembly seat.
While Cornegy has to be considered an early favorite, sources say several other people are considering throwing their hat in the ring. This includes Common Grounds Coffee Shop owner Tremaine Wright, Community Board 3 member Ella Joy Williams and Rep. Ed Towns’ liaison, Karen Cherry.
“I see the Assembly race as a wonderful opportunity for us as a community to elect a capable, dynamic and responsive elected official,” said Wright. “If Ms. (Annette) Robinson decides she’s retiring then a number of people will pop up who might not even be thinking of running and it would be a healthy race.”
One political source said Cornegy could be tested in the Assembly race.
“He (Cornegy) was definitely anointed and there’s definitely questions about his abilities,” said the source. “I don’t get the sense he has what it takes. There’s a place for political clubs, but there’s times when they are not in the best interests of the community.”
But Cornegy defended political clubs, saying they just have to be updated and that Central Brooklyn is suffering because of division from independent Democrats.
“Clubhouse politics have always been a rallying point and meeting point for getting things done,” said Cornegy. “The power of clubs is undeniable, but how the power is yielded has to be looked at.”
Odds and Ends
Olanike (Ola) Alabi, the 57th Democratic Assembly Female District Leader, will be fighting a war on two fronts in the September primary.
That after Parliament Democratic Club President and community activist Renée Collymore announced she will again take on Ola for the Female District Leader seat. Ola is also running against male Democratic District Leader Walter Mosley for the state Assembly seat that Jeffries must vacate to run for Congress.
Also announcing a run for office is longtime community activist Tony Herbert, who will run for William Boyland’s 55th District Assembly seat.
Boyland, while still in office, is facing felony charges of bribery and corruption and must step down if he is convicted.
While Herbert said he feels bad that “a brother” might be convicted, the upside is it can be an opportunity to transform the community.
“We’re supposed to be about the community and there’s been problems in the community for a long time,” said Herbert. “The Boylands have been about the family business and not the peoples’ business and that’s the issue.”