New York City Councilmember Charles Barron has entered the race for New York governor, challenging Democrats to acknowledge minorities and field more black and Latino candidates. Brandishing petitions with 45,500 signatures, enough to get his newly-formed Freedom Party on the ballot this November, Barron announced his candidacy for the state’s top post August 16 at Brooklyn Borough Hall.
Surrounded by about 75 supporters, Barron indicated his candidacy was designed to open New York Democrats’ eyes to their lily-white slate of candidates for statewide offices. Gubernatorial hopeful Andrew Cuomo and running mate Robert Duffy; Attorney General candidates Eric Schneiderman, Sean Coffey, Kathleen Rice, Richard Brodsky and Eric Dinallo; and incumbent Comptroller Tom DiNapoli are all white.
“No longer are we going to allow the Democrats to take the black vote for granted, Republicans to ignore us or the white progressives on the left to use us,” Barron said during his announcement, according to the Daily News. “[The Freedom] Party is a black- and Latino-led party that is open up to everybody. If we take care of blacks and Latinos, the state will be better off.”
Barron, a former member of the Black Panthers, was elected to the New York City Council in 2001 with decades of community organizing experience. He represents the 42nd Council District, including parts of Brownsville and East New York in Brooklyn.
The Freedom Party slate includes Charles Barron, Buffalo community activist and educator Eva Doyle for Lieutenant Governor, and Bronx attorney and activist Ramon Jimenez for Attorney General.
At least one of Barron’s colleagues has questioned his race-based approach to campaigning. City Councilmember Lew Fidler, a Democrat representing the 46th District (Mill Basin, Canarsie and eastern Brooklyn), is exploring ways to challenge Barron’s petition signatures on behalf of “people who find the notion of running a race-based party abhorrent,” he told the Daily News’ Daily Politics blog. “I’m doing it on behalf of people who would prefer less racism and more civility in politics.”
For more about Barron’s bid, watch his interview with Capitol Tonight and State of Politics host Liz Benjamin, below.
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