Tuesday's Big Loser - Rev. Al

People like me who think Al Sharpton is more a creation of the media than an authentic leader of the African-American community were hopeful that Rev. Al’s truly pathetic vote totals when he ran for President would cause people to stop taking him seriously.

In that year, Sharpton lost the black majority District of Columbia primary to Howard Dean, finished 3rd with less than 10% in South Carolina where Blacks were 50% of the turnout and lost badly to “soul brother” John Kerry in both of Central Brooklyn’s Congressional districts.

But that was not to be as the press and pols continued to treat Al like he could deliver voters. In 2004, the DNC paid him fly around the country and say at the Four Season in an attempt to energize minority voters. In 2005, the NYC press hyperventilated in speculating over how Al would react to Freddie Ferrer’s comments about the Dialo shooting. And after Sharpton endorsed Ferrer, his campaign blew a few thousand of his scarce campaign war chest on that embarrassing ad showing Al dancing.

So I don’t expect this year’s Primary results to stop dumb pols and lazy reporters from treating Sharpton like a kingmaker but it’s instructive to review the results.

I don’t have a list of all of his endorsements but 3 races in predominately Black parts of Brooklyn tell us a lot. Sharpton was one of the most prominent supporters of Carl Andrews in his quest for Congress, marching with him at the West Indian Day Parade. Andrews, of course, finished 3rd with fewer than 25% of the vote.

Al was probably the most prominent supporter of Tracy Boyland in her attempt to unseat State Senator Velmanette Montgomery. Boyland lost 2 to 1.

And in a race that received no press coverage but was commented on in this blog by Rock Hackshaw, a young, energetic, articulate assistant to Sharpton, Kirsten Foy challenged Democratic State Committeeman Moses Moore. Both Rock and Maurice Gumbs speculated that Moore was vulnerable because of his ties to disgraced future convict Clarence Norman and Moore was as he lost on Tuesday. But not to Al’s aide. Foy came in a bad 3rd with less than 15% of the vote!

Now to be fair, there are at least 2 winners that Sharpton backed. But that may tell us more about his integrity and intellectual consistency than anything else.

Sharpton backed Congressman Ed Towns over Councilman Charles Barron. This despite the fact that after Towns endorsed Rudy Giuliani for re-election as Mayor in 1997, Sharpton threatened that he might challenge Towns for re-election in 1998. I wonder what changed since that that convinced Al, who likes to proclaim that he is a progressive leader, that Towns deserved support over Barron. Was it Towns support for CAFTA or his defense of big tobacco?

Sharpton also endorsed Andrew Cuomo for AG a week before the Primary. I’m not surprised that nobody pointed out at the time that in 1994, Sharpton thought so little of Andrew’s dad that he authorized a campaign to get Black voters to write-in Sharpton for Governor in an attempt to defeat Mario. And that in January of this year, Al was incensed at Andrews for disrespecting the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr. by being the only major pol not to show up on King’s Birthday to kiss Al’s ring in Harlem Maybe some of  the money Cuomo got that day for speaking in Las Vegas found it’s way into the National Action Network’s treasury?