Ed Towns loses an election

Ed Towns loses an election
Community Newspaper Group / Aaron Short

Rep. Ed Towns has won 14 consecutive elections to represent a large chunk of Brooklyn in Congress — but this week, he got trounced for an unpaid district leader position in Bushwick.

Members of the Brooklyn Democratic Party inner circle chose Councilman Erik Dilan — an ally of controversial party boss Assemblyman Vito Lopez — over the 28-year congressman in a special election to replace Towns’s son, Darryl, an assemblyman who abandoned the party post to take a big job with Gov. Cuomo.

Dilan (D–Bushwick) was chosen to fill the vacancy in a 36-10 vote at the Stars and Stripes Democratic Club in Bensonhurst. Three district leaders abstained.

The vote clearly showed Lopez’s sway over the decision: District Leaders Joanne Simon (D–Brooklyn Heights), Lincoln Restler (D–Williamsburg) and Chris Owens (D–Park Slope) — who have all been thorns in Lopez’s side — all voted for Towns. Nearly all of the southern Brooklyn district leaders, most of whom are Lopez allies, voted for Dilan.

Political insiders say Lopez aggressively lobbied for Dilan, who is the son of Albany colleague state Sen. Martin Milave Dilan (D–Williamsburg).

Political insiders say Lopez aggressively lobbied for Dilan, who is the son of Albany colleague state Sen. Martin Milave Dilan (D–Williamsburg).

But Lopez said Towns did some heavy lobbying of his own — sending out three e-mails, holding one-on-one meetings with more than half dozen district leaders, and making repeated phone calls to encourage the county leadership to vote for him.

“Ed Towns worked day and night to secure the district leader spot,” said Lopez, who admitted to having a “strained” relationship with the longtime congressman. “His lobbying effort was much more comprehensive than mine,”

District leader positions are the lowest rung in our political system — but they have important powers that help Lopez. For instance, district leaders, sometimes called state committeemen, pick poll workers and help collect signatures to get party-backed candidates on the ballot.

And district leaders also elect the county leader — currently Lopez.

Towns did not attend the vote after he was told that he wouldn’t be allowed to address the group.

“That doesn’t spell democracy — it spells dictatorship,” Towns told us. “Why couldn’t I come in and address them for, two minutes, three minutes, five minutes or whatever — and I’m a former district leader!”

Simon agreed.

“I don’t think anybody should be excluded,” she said. “I believe it’s the democratic thing to have both of them in the room to make their case. I don’t think we should be asked to vote on a candidate who doesn’t come before us.”

— with Dan MacLeod