Firebrand Councilman Charles Barron has joined the battle to unseat 30-year Rep. Ed Towns — adding another big name candidate to the 2012 race.
Barron made the announcement in East New York on Sunday, promising to take his “tell it like it is” attitude all the way to Washington.
“We are going to be the voice of our people,” said Barron. “We’re sick and tired of both the Democrats and the Republicans in Washington, because it doesn’t matter who gets in office. We still have a corporate elite running a two-party system, so we’re saying, ‘No’ to that.
“We gotta be the voice of the people and tell it like it is everywhere,” he continued. “I don’t know if I’m going to get a single bill passed and I don’t care. We’re going to rock ’em.”
Barron, a former Black Panther whose rants against the city leadership has put him at odds with Speaker Christine Quinn — and has marginalized his own clout in City Hall — acted as if he’s already won.
But he still has a long way to go: the primary featuring himself, Towns and Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries (D–Fort Greene), is 10 months away, and Barron has yet to file with the Federal Elections Commission. Jefferies, on the other hand, has more than $170,000 cash to begin his campaign against Towns, who has just $11,000 in his war chest right now.
Being an incumbent, however, he will likely raise more than $1 million by next summer.
Towns also has history on his side: he has represented the district, which spans from Fort Greene to Canarsie, for three decades. He’s also run against Barron before — and won. The councilman ran against Towns in 2006 in a three-way race for the Democratic nomination, losing 48-37 percent, with third-place finisher Roger Green picking up 15 percent.
Barron has quite a reputation for running for office — and losing. He routinely throws his hat in the race to be elected Council Speaker, but ends up being the only one voting for him. He also lost last year’s governor’s race, getting fewer votes than Jimmy McMillon of “The Rent is Too Damn High” fame.
But Barron brings an insurgent’s energy to the race. Of the three candidates, he’s the only one known for his opposition to Walmart’s plans to bring a big box stores to southern Brooklyn — a position he mentions pretty much wherever he goes.
A spokeswoman for Jeffries campaign wouldn’t comment on Barron’s entry to the race. A spokesman for Towns said Barron is more than welcome to enter the race — and lose right alongside Jeffries.
“Congressman Towns has something that neither candidate has: a record of taking on banks and insurance companies,” Towns spokesman Hank Sheinkopf said. “He’s going to run on that record and get re-elected.”
Reach reporter Thomas Tracy at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (718) 260-2525.