Towns, Powell get down & dirty - Mud starts to fly in contentious race for congressional seat

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The 10th Congressional primary race has barely begun and it’s already turning into a down-and-dirty affair.

Rep. Ed Towns, the 13-term Democratic incumbent who eked out a 2006 primary win in a three-way primary race, and his recently announced opponent, Kevin Powell, traded accusations to this newspaper.

The 10th Congressional district includes East New York, Canarsie, Brownsville, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Cypress Hills, Clinton Hill, Mill Basin, Midwood, downtown Brooklyn, Boerum Hill, and parts of Fort Greene and Williamsburg.

Powell is a Fort Greene activist and accomplished journalist/writer who appeared on “The Real World” on MTV.

“What comes up again and again is the non-engagement and the invisibility of Mr. Towns. To me, if you’re going to be in public office as a public servant, you should be providing services and be accessible to the community,” said Powell.

Powell, 42, alleged that Towns only comes around during primary season and then disappears from both the community and congressional sessions, having missed nearly 1,000 votes in Congress since 1993.

Powell said the district is facing a growing economic crisis due to the growing cost of fuel and food, and the high rate of foreclosures in the district due to subprime mortgages.

Towns, 73, responded that it is untrue he has missed 1,000 votes over the years, and said he had been caught off-guard by the strength of his primary opposition in 2006.

In that race, Towns took 47 percent of the vote in beating back challenges by City Councilmember Charles Barron, who took 37 percent of the vote, and former Assembly member Roger Green, who won 16 percent of the vote.

Powell originally ran in the 2006 primary as well, but dropped out of the race to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

“What happened was I took Charles Barron lightly. I must admit he got more votes then I thought he’d get, but I’m not new to business. I’ve been here 26 years,” said Towns.

Towns said Powell has done little in the community, just wants press and is taking this primary as it comes.

“In a situation like this, I’ve not said too much about it and I won’t. If there’s a real race I’ll have a lot to say,” said Towns.

Besides the power of being a long-time incumbent, Towns also has a lot more money for the race.

Thus far, Towns has raised $700,000 for this year’s primary and election, and according to his most recent filing, he has $200,000 in cash.

Powell’s campaign has not yet filed any campaign finance data, but Powell said he expects to raise $250,000 for the race.

Updated 3:47 pm, October 19, 2011
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