Accepting his first big endorsement, Charles Barron says he’s not the controversial one

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Charles Barron. (Reid Pillifant)
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Charles Barron accepted an endorsement today.

On the steps of City Hall, the controversial councilman picked up his first big show of support from DC37, the city's largest public employees union.

It's something of a coup for Barron, who has consistently shrugged off the steady stream of support for his more palatable opponent, Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries.

"The difference between those labor endorsements and this labor endorsement is, I believe, the rank and file members of DC37—as they told you, it was a unanimous vote with the locals—they will follow their leadership and support me and will go all the way," he said.

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Barron dismissed the leadership vote of the other unions is all "political," and said rank-and-file members of all unions will support him in the voting booth.

I asked Barron if he thought his penchant for courting controversy—he mourned Muammar Khadafy earlier this year, and once hosted Robert Mugabe at City Hall—might have affected his level of public support.

"What does controversial mean?" he asked me, suggesting the media should be using the adjective for Mayor Bloomberg, instead of him.

"I'm not controversial," he said. "I'm effective. I'm effective in getting things done. I'm effective in putting on the front-burner the issues of the 99 percent, those who are neglected and rejected by government. And that's why DC37 endorsed me."

The man-bites-dog nature of a Barron endorsement drew about a half-dozen reporters, and a couple of cameras, to the rainy overhang on the City Hall steps.

An hour earlier when Jeffries accepted yet another endorsement, from a slate of citywide Latino leaders that included Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., in the same spot, there was just one NY1 reporter. "I don't see what the news was," said one reporter who skipped Jeffries' event but attended Barron's.

The Jeffries campaign is still struggling to convince reporters that it's a real race, even as their candidate racks up glowing profiles in national papers, like the recent Washington Post story (again) comparing him to Barack Obama.

(Asked about that story, Barron said he didn't read Jeffries' press.)

Barron, for his part, seems committed to holding his tongue. He refused to say anything particularly controversial about his opponent, or foreign policy, or anything else, really.

"We are in a life and death situation," he said. "Y'all are looking for controversy, excitement, I'm looking for results. I'm looking for leadership, effectiveness. That's what I'm going to bring to all the t.v. appearances we have together, I'm going to show this community, this eighth congressional district, that I am an effective leader, that has 40 years of accomplishments and brought in results. People want results, not debates."