Is this a significant endorsement for John Liu's mayoral campaign?

Quite often in politics seemingly insignificant endorsements eventually bear lots of surprising fruit. In this year’s NYC mayoral race, such an occurrence could be shaping up. There are five top candidates in the democrat’s September primary, and the consensus amongst political pundits appears to be that the winner of this primary will be the next mayor of New York City. I suspect that this view is being propagated by voter-registration numbers which suggest that democrats dominate the rolls; and also because a democrat hasn’t won the mayoralty since 1989. In rough and tumble world of NYC politics, two dozen years equates to more than two dozen lifetimes.    

These are the five top candidates (in alphabetical order): Bill DiBlasio, John Liu, Christine Quinn, Bill Thompson and Anthony Wiener. In NYC, the election rules provide for a runoff between the top two finishers- once no one gets over the forty per cent vote-threshold. Hopefully, I will deal with the “nitty-gritty” of this race in subsequent columns.   

So here is the skinny from Rock Hermon Hackshaw: at the end of the Dems primary, Christine Quinn will be in a runoff with one of her male opponents; the question is who.  

When you have political contests like this one every endorsement is crucial. For quite a while now, there has been serious infighting amongst these candidates, over union endorsements. This infighting has been quietly taking place behind the scenes for years now. Politicians love to beat up on unions during their stump speeches about fiscal responsibility and such; but when it comes to getting union endorsements, these same pols will kiss union-ass like nobody’s business. 

A study of the NYC electorate will reveal a fascinating mix of races, ethnicities, nationalities, religions and such. You can break the electorate down into many many small pieces: each one representing an intriguing bloc of votes. It is a true challenge to put together the winning combination(s) utilizing (and exploiting) the mix. Working on a NYC mayoral campaign is a political-consultant’s dream.  

Errol Louis -a prominent NYC journalist- recently wrote a column in the Daily News, predicting that Bill Thompson will emerge as the winner of the “black-vote” despite recent polling showing him struggling within his natural constituency. He is the only African-American (with a Caribbean heritage) in the race.  As a fellow Carib, Errol may be correct in his overall assessment, but there should be a caveat: ostensibly, in the overall black community, there is no real excitement so far, for any of the candidates running; even for Mr. Excitement (Bill Thompson) himself. 

So this brings me to the endorsement of which I write today. Charles Barron has quietly (given Barron’s penchant for being garrulous) endorsed John Liu for mayor. Last time around he endorsed Bill Thompson. This has been one of the few endorsement-surprises so far in this race. 

I doubt any political pundit in this city expected to see Charles Barron endorse someone other than the only black candidate in this race: and believe me when I say I include myself in that mix. Barron is perpetually unapologetic in his self-styled “blackness”; but he does touch the pulse of a small segment in the black community. Despite his many problems/failures in attempting to further elevate the totem pole for elected officials, Barron’s political militancy has much more support in the black community than his vote totals in fruitless high-falutin runs.   

If John Liu isn’t afraid to play up this endorsement in tactical corners of the hood, he could pull some surprise votes that many political number-crunchers would never tally. Liu could even play it up in some Hispanic precincts and expect decent returns too. For a guy with a solid and enthused home base (Asian-Americans), this unanticipated endorsement could reap some sneaky rewards. Barron has already written an article in the Amsterdam News, listing the dozen or more reasons why he endorsed Liu over the other candidates. Depending on the strategic handling of this endorsement, we would be able to measure the efficacy on primary-election night.  

I will do another column on the various other endorsements soon enough, but for now, do trust me when I say that in this particular primary, endorsements will be crucial in terms of deciding who gets into the runoff.  In that regard Bill Thompson has done quite well for a guy who has been out of office for the past four years. Bill’s dogged determination and steadfast devotion to this race, is quite admirable. His only problem is that John Liu will run a strong enough race to hurt the chances of electing a minority for only the second time in NYC history. 

In the three hundred and forty eight year history of NYC mayors, 107 out of 108 have been white males.  Afro-American David Dinkins has been the only exception. There is still a possibility that either Liu or Thompson can become the second.   

Stay tuned-in folks.