Reading reports by Mary Alice Miller (of Our Times Press), I have come away feeling that the Eighth Congressional race is steeped in the slime of eastern Brooklyn politics, a place where deals are cut in whispers at secret meetings.
The players in this drama are public figures, but they are public only in name.
They build family dynasties. They trade offices with allies and family members, holding fast to the rhetoric of service, even as their pensions grow wide like the faces of feasting pigs.
The latest chapter in this ongoing saga comes now as retiring Congressman Ed Towns throws his support to Councilman Charles Barron.
Awareness of this comes via Mary Alice, who seems to love her honorable job of learning about, and narrating, the doings of local politicians.
It seems, she says, that Towns will soon announce (this Monday) that he is backing Barron in the instant race for the Eighth Congressional seat.
This will be a blow to Hakeem Jeffries, who has been seen by many as the favored one in the June 26th primary contest. (The winner will have to face off against the Green Party and the Repubican Party in November.)
But Towns' real reason for going with Barron, says Miller, is not love for Barron, nor dislike for Jeffries, but old political grudges he holds against Assemblyman Vito Lopez, Brooklyn's sleezy Democratic boss. (Lopez, like most other political leaders, is backing Jeffries against Barron.)
On one level, I'm compelled to say, good for Towns, for taking a slap at Lopez.
The first deception with Lopez is his very name. So many people think he's Latino, and he's not. His first name, you've noted, is Vito, and it is that name that defines his ethnicity. It's clear that he has used his surname to situate himself comfortably in the minority melting pot of eastern Brooklyn -- all while lining his pockets (and the pockets of his lover). Google and read about him.
But Mary Alice leads us to conclude that Towns' problem with Lopez has little to do with political purity. No, it's about old political battles and mutual hatreds.
(For a story about one past feud, having to do with a race in eastern Brooklyn, look here.)
So what does this all say about Jeffries?
For all that I respect Hakeem Jeffries, and the gentlemanly way he deals with constituents and others, I was taken aback by his association with Lopez in this race.
Jeffries has a new wave air of openness about him. It stands in marked contrast to the pocket-filling dishonesty that characterizes Lopez.
And for many New Yorkers it contrasted also with the gloves-on style of Barron, who has burned many bridges with a tendency to yell and bloviate.
Mary Alice tells us a bit about Barron and the whispering, off-the-radar side of him we don't otherwise see.
(Read Mary Alice here.)
(For her NY1 revelation of Towns' coming endorsement, see this video.)
As for the immediate future?
Let's just say this: For all this pre-event blowing of the trumpet, Towns better come a-marching with his endorsement of Barron.
Or a lot of us will be munching humble pie.