Towns and the country

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Rep. Ed Towns, the 12-term legislator who survived a close fight during a 2006 campaign that many felt would be his last, now says he’ll run for re-election next year.

“Let everyone know — the guy is running!” Towns said by phone last week from his Washington office.

Towns, 73, admitted that before his re-election last year, he had spoken of retiring, but now that the Democrats have taken over Congress — and he’s been given a subcommittee chairmanship — he’s “having too much fun” to retire.

“We’re in the majority now and I’m enjoying that,” he said, adding that the Democratic majority actually passed a bill — the “Minority Serving Digital and Wireless Technology Opportunity Act of 2007” — that he had worked on for six years.

“The Republicans wouldn’t even let it be debated,” said Towns, whose 10th Congressional District stretches from Downtown Brooklyn to East New York, with stops in Cobble Hill, Prospect Heights, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, DUMBO and Williamsburg.

“But now, I can hold hearings — as I did Monday on 9-11 health issues — and pick witnesses. The Republicans wouldn’t let me do that.”

A prodigious fundraiser who spent more than $1.3 million to retain his seat amid a spirited challenge by Councilmember Charles Barron last year, Towns is expected to face little opposition now that Barron has declared his intention of running for Borough President.

More than half of Towns’s 2006 war chest came from political action committees — and 86 percent of those were from big business, according to campaign finance records.

Though a proud Democrat, Towns has been hard to pigeonhole.

He’s been a strong supporter of abortion rights, but also earned solid marks from such conservative groups as the John Birch Society and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

He is the scourge of the Christian Coalition, yet voted with the “Republican Liberty Caucus,” which supports “limited-government individuals,” 50 percent of the time in 2005 (the same rating earned by Republicans Connie Mack, of Florida, and Sam Graves, of Missouri).

He supported resolutions against the Iraq war and the so-called troop surge this year. But he also voted with the then-GOP majority on estate tax relief and on a 2005 bill to give tax breaks to big oil and coal companies.

He also voted with President Bush’s party on a Constitutional amendment to ban flag-burning.

The only person said to be discussing the race is writer Kevin Powell, who dropped out early in the 2006 contest.

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