News & Politics

DNC Chair Tim Kaine Seemingly Unconcerned About Al Sharpton’s Sabotaging New York Democrats


Tim Kaine, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, has no problem with Al Sharpton’s refusal to endorse Andrew Cuomo for governor.

Derrick Plummer, a DNC spokesman, e-mailed the Voice, calling Sharpton “a trusted voice on issues of importance to millions of Americans.” Plummer said that Kaine “meets with Reverend Sharpton frequently” and that “Reverend Sharpton has been an important resource.”

“Earlier this year, Chairman Kaine was honored to speak at Reverend Sharpton’s National Action Network Conference,” Plummer continued, “and will continue to work with Reverend Sharpton as the DNC discusses what is at stake for voters this November.”

The Plummer e-mail was in response to a Voice request for comment on “the DNC’s plans to use Reverend Sharpton as a surrogate” in swing districts this fall. Plummer is the Midwest regional press secretary for the DNC.

I also sent Kaine a copy of Monday’s blog item detailing Sharpton’s suggestion in a NY1 interview that Cuomo was taking blacks for granted, and that featured his praise for Charles Barron, who is running on the new Freedom Party ballot line against Cuomo. Barron recently branded Cuomo “pathetic,” and his supporters picketed a Cuomo appearance in Harlem equating the Democratic gubernatorial nominee with his GOP rival Carl Paladino, chanting “different name; same game.” Sharpton was supposed to attend the Harlem meeting with Cuomo, but did not show.

The blog item put this in the context of Sharpton’s boasts — in his own memoirs — about how his neutrality helped defeat Cuomo’s father as well as the Democratic candidate for mayor in 2001, Mark Green. Sharpton also laid claim in one book to contributing to the defeat of U.S. Senate candidate Bob Abrams, who narrowly lost to Republican Al D’Amato when Sharpton sat out that race.

Sharpton’s record of sabotaging Democrats in New York — he openly endorsed D’Amato in 1986 after D’Amato steered a federal grant to his organization — should hardly be news to the Obama camp. Sharpton never endorsed Obama in the presidential primary campaign. He hosted Ralph Nader at his NAN headquarters on the eve of the 2000 presidential campaign, when Nader was draining votes away from Al Gore.

Andrew Kirtzman, a top New York journalist whose Rudy Giuliani: Emperor of the City was published in 2000, exposed Sharpton’s many behind-the-scenes machinations with his public nemesis Giuliani. Kirtzman closed his account of “Sharpton’s secret history of communications with the Giuliani camp” by quoting one of the primary intermediaries, Arthur Bramwell, the black leader of the Brooklyn Republican Party and lifelong friend of Sharpton’s. Bramwell said Sharpton “was playing both sides of the fence” in the two races in 1989 and 1993 between Giuliani and David Dinkins, the city’s only black mayor.

“Sharpton was anti-Dinkins, no question about that,” Bramwell said.

Evan Mandery, a campaign aide to Ruth Messinger, the 1997 Democrat who defeated Sharpton in the Democratic primary, published a diary in a book called The Campaign two years later. “Behind the scenes,” he wrote, “Sharpton’s people have opened negotiations with our political department about a possible endorsement. They want money, which is no surprise. What is a surprise is the amount they’re demanding. Emboldened by the Reverend’s strong showing in the primary, they’re talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Sharpton did eventually endorse Messinger though the terms of their deal have not been revealed. Nonetheless, he attacked her when a police brutality case exploded in Giuliani’s face, absurdly equating Messinger’s position with the pro-police Giuliani’s.


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