The candidate, New York City Councilman Charles Barron, has made occasional appearances on the national stage — primarily Fox News — for his explosive statements about white people (he’d like to slap one, “for my mental health”), Jews (Black people are the real “Semites”) and foreign policy. But Barron, a self-described “revolutionary Pan-Africanist” who donned a red Nehru jacket with gold braid to receive the brutal Zimbabwean dictator at City Hall in 2002, has also been a steadfast ally of New York civil servants, many of them African-American and living in his East New York and Brownsville district.

Two major city public worker unions, District Councils 37 and 1707 of the giant American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, have already endorsed Barron against Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, a relatively moderate legislator who has championed charter schools, a union bugaboo.

And BuzzFeed has learned that their powerful federal parent union, known as AFSCME, is planning to dive into the race on Barron’s behalf. Another key New York State public workers union, the Civil Service Employees Association, meanwhile, blocked an AFL-CIO effort to endorse Barron’s rival.