U.S. Congressman Edolphus Towns, D-Brooklyn, will not seek a 16th term in the U.S. House of Representatives, his campaign announced today.
“After months of long family discussions, I have decided not to seek re-election for my seat in the United State House of Representatives. I am very grateful for the support we have received over the years. I believe firmly that we would have won a 16thterm had we decided to run," he said in an e-mail news release Monday.
In the statement, he said he was particularly proud of the funds he brought to the district, his battle against Wall Street corruption as chair of the Congressional Oversight Committee and his role in the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Following the announcement, President Obama issued a statment of his own praising Towns for his many accomplishments.
"As a veteran, teacher, minister, and congressman, Edolphus Towns has dedicated his life to public service," he said. "In his 30 years representing the people of New York, Ed has fought tirelessly to improve the public healthcare system, strengthen consumer protections and improve the public education system....Michelle and i join the people of New York in wishing Ed and his family all the best in the future."
Towns was running against Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries and longtime Councilman Charles Barron in the June 26th primary for the 8th Congressional District, which includes Fort Greene, Bed-Stuy and Prospect Heights (North of Dean Street from Flatbush to Vanderbilt and North of St. Marks Avenue east of Vanderbilt).
The 30-year incumbent’s announcement comes after a campaign notable for its lack of fundraising and campaigning efforts.
Towns’ campaign first showed signs of trouble back in February when it was reported that challenging an incumbent, even beating out Barry Ford's fundraising record of $260,000 in 1999.
Criticism grew with the congressman’s opponents and some community members, as they began pointing to his alleged absence on the campaign trail. In fact, his failure to show up for key speaking engagements was noted as a big reason the Vanguard Independent Democratic Club (VIDA) this year chose to endorse Jeffries, after decades of backing Towns.
District Leader and VIDA President Robert E. Cornegy, Jr. admitted Towns would have had a better chance of gaining the club’s endorsement had he met with the board. But he never showed up, said Cornegy of Towns -- who had been a mentor to Cornegy -- while Jeffries had made two appearances. Cornegy said the decision was nothing personal, but he had to go with the board’s decision.
“We respect and honor Congressman Towns’ 30-year commitment to public service,” Cornegy told Patch. “And we especially respect his decision to transition on his terms. History will be able to detail the many accomplishments over the long period of his tenure for his constituency.”
Meanwhile, Jeffries, who has so far raised an impressive and has secured , commended Towns for his service.
"I commend Congressman Towns on his 30 years of service to the people of Brooklyn and wish him well on the next chapter of his professional life,” Jeffries said in a written statement.
Barron, who came within 8 percentage points from beating Towns in 2006, said Towns’ decision will not change his campaign’s strategy.
“I believe we’re going to win, whether he’s in the race or out of the race,” Barron told Patch. “The bottom line is, I show up for my people. The others don’t. With these Republicans trying to take control of every legislative decision, you need a fighter in the House right now, and I’m the best fighter that we could have.”