4:26 pm Jun. 22, 2012
The chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus sees a silver lining in the divisive primary fight to replace Representative Ed Towns in Brooklyn.
"The good news is there is hardly any chance we won't have a C.B.C. member elected from that seat," said Emmanuel Cleaver, a longtime congressman from Missouri who has chaired the caucus since 2010.
National Democrats have been lining up to support the the establishment favorite, Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, out of fear that City Councilman Charles Barron, a former Black Panther with a history of divisive rhetoric, might actually win Tuesday's primary.
But, after endorsing Rep. Charlie Rangel outside of City Hall this afternoon, Cleaver said the C.B.C wouldn't get involved.
"We have not been involved in that," he said, although he acknowledged being "familiar" with the race.
I asked him if he thought one of the candidates in the race might be better suited to be a new member of the C.B.C. and serve inCongress.
"We're trying to stay out of it. None of us really know any of the candidates," he said. "All we know is what we've been reading. Some of it is, you know, a little acidic. I was briefed yesterday, again, on this race, since I was coming up here. And we just made a decision that we were going to stay out of it."
Towns, a longtime member of the C.B.C., endorsed Barron after announcing that he wouldn't seek re-election. I asked Cleaver if Towns' endorsement had any impact or weight with the C.B.C.
"The good news for us is that he never came to us and said I want you guys to endorse what I've done," said Cleaver. "He has not been trying to drag us into it. And so we all appreciate that because, we think you have to be on the ground up here, in a race where there is no incumbent."