Towns addresses the nagging rumor about his retirement; a spokesman says he’s ‘busy’ raising

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Representative Ed Towns. (Reid Pillifant)
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With an upstart primary challenger, Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, making a well-attended Sunday announcement of a congressional run, longtime congressman Ed Towns issued a statement this morning proclaiming his intention to run for re-election.

Towns said he has "every intention of being re-elected and returning to Congress to continue my work on behalf of senior citizens, to fight for better educational opportunities, to protect reforms to healthcare, and to ensure that more people get jobs."

The congressman had previously insisted to me that he was, definitely, unequivocally, running for re-election, and his spokesman, Charles Lewis Jr., told me this morning that the statement—which, like the repeated guarantees, isn't usually a necessary exercise for an incumbent—was in reaction to the continued speculation based in part on the fact that Towns had just over $11,000 on hand at the end of September. (Jeffries, by comparison, raised $173,000 in the third quarter.)

Lewis told me Towns had been working hard in the fourth quarter to fill his coffers.

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"I can't give you any numbers, but he's been very, very busy raising money," Lewis told me. "He's serious. He's serious about this."

In his brief statement, which was expressly packaged as a response to Jeffries' announcement, Towns made the case for his seniority, earned over three decades in Congress.

“Having chaired the Congressional Black Caucus and one of the most influential committees in the House of Representatives—the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, I have earned the respect of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle," he said. "I have worked tirelessly on behalf of the people in the 10th Congressional District who have voted to return me to Congress many times allowing me to gain the seniority that is needed to be an effective Member of Congress.”

Towns' ability make his seniority a selling point could be complicated. Normally in this context, seniority implies plum committee assignments and the ability to deliver outsize helpings of pork to consituents. But the Democratic leadership ousted Towns from the ranking-member position on the Oversight Committee after the party lost the House

Towns' statement, like Jeffries' announcement on Sunday, failed to mention Councilman Charles Barron, who officially declared for the race last month, and finished second to Towns in a three-way race in 2006.

Here's the statement in full:

Towns Vows to Take On All Challengers

BROOKLYN, NY—Congressman Edolphus “Ed” Towns issued the following statement today regarding the announcement by Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries that he will be running for election in the 10th Congressional District:

“Every citizen has the right to run for elective office.  That is the democratic process.  I have had primaries before.  However, I have every intention of being re-elected and returning to Congress to continue my work on behalf of senior citizens, to fight for better educational opportunities, to protect reforms to healthcare, and to ensure that more people get jobs.

“Having chaired the Congressional Black Caucus and one of the most influential committees in the House of Representatives—the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, I have earned the respect of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. I have worked tirelessly on behalf of the people in the 10th Congressional District who have voted to return me to Congress many times allowing me to gain the seniority that is needed to be an effective Member of Congress.”