NEW YORK (AP)—New York City Councilman Charles Barron, angered by Democrat Andrew Cuomo's selection of a white, male running mate and the overall lack of diversity among Democrats running for statewide office, said Monday he would launch his own protest bid for governor.
"We are sick of Democrats taking us for granted - an all-white slate is outrageous," Barron, who is black, told The Associated Press, sharply criticizing Cuomo for choosing Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy as his running mate. Barron called Duffy "anti-union" and said many black voters had opposed Duffy's effort to put the city's public schools under mayoral control.
Barron also bemoaned the rest of the all-white Democratic Party lineup this fall: Besides Cuomo, the state's two U.S. senators, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, are white, as is state controller Tom DiNapoli. All five Democrats running for attorney general are white.
Barron acknowledged that few blacks had come forward to run statewide this year but said that didn't justify Cuomo's choice of Duffy or other party leaders appointing white candidates to important positions. Gillibrand and DiNapoli were appointed to their jobs.
"For blacks, a vote for Andrew Cuomo is a wasted vote," Barron said.
So far, Cuomo's choice of Duffy does not appear to have affected his standing among voters. A Siena Poll released Monday found him leading Republican rival Rick Lazio, 60 percent to 24 percent, although that margin narrowed slightly since the last Siena survey. But some Democratic strategists have worried that black voters, an important part of the Democratic coalition, won't be motivated to head to the polls this year, in part because of the lack of diversity on the ticket.
A Cuomo spokesman, Josh Vlasto, declined to comment on Barron's announcement.
Barron, a former member of the Black Panther party, said he would run as a representative of the New York Freedom Democratic Party, named for the organization created by civil rights activist Fanny Lou Hamer in Mississippi in 1964 so blacks could participate in the Democratic National Convention that year. At the time, the Democratic Party in Mississippi was limited to white membership only.
Barron would have to get 50,000 signatures to create a new ballot line for his party.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)