Towns and county — Congressman seeks low-level party post to challenge Vito

The Brooklyn Paper
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Rep. Ed Towns has been at the top of Brooklyn’s political ladder for 28 years, but now he wants to go right back to the bottom — and perhaps deal a blow to Brooklyn Democratic Party boss Vito Lopez.

Towns (D–Fort Greene) is preparing to run for the unpaid district leader seat that his son, Assemblyman Darryl Towns (D–Bushwick), is abandoning to become Gov. Cuomo’s new housing czar.

A spokesman for the elder Towns, 76, said that the congressman simply wants to build on his son’s achievements as district leader.

But 14-term congressmen don’t generally run for the party’s lowest-level positions unless they’ve got an agenda beyond lining up poll workers and getting petition signatures for other candidates.

By becoming a district leader, Towns could challenge Lopez (D–Bushwick) for leadership of the county party organization, possibly removing a longtime Towns family rival from his base of power.

As a role model, Towns need look no further than down the hall of Congress, where Rep. Joseph Crowley (D–Queens) is also a district leader — and chairman of the Queens Democratic Party.

Towns’s endgame may be to unseat Lopez as chair, political insiders say, but Lopez wouldn’t comment on Rep. Towns’s plans, and Towns’s spokesman, Julian Phillips, isn’t expecting any friction.

“[Towns’s] son coexisted with Lopez without a problem, I’m sure the Congressman will do the same,” he said.

Still, the move had local pols gabbing.

“It certainly changes the father-son political paradigm,” joked Park Slope District Leader Chris Owens, who tried to succeed his retiring father, Rep. Major Owens, but lost in 2008.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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