Towns and out? Rep. Ed is so low on cash that some think he’s plotting retirement

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Fifteen-term Rep. Ed Towns is losing the money war to Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries — and has only $11,000 on hand against an upstart candidate who raised more than $150,000 in his first cash push.

In the latest campaign finance filings released over the weekend, Towns (D–Fort Greene) had exactly $11,240 on hand while Jeffries (D–Fort Greene), had $158,940.

Towns did raise $69,258 in the quarter, but spent $107,742 in that same period, dropping his cash on hand to levels so low that some wags are saying that he may just be retiring quietly.

Jeffries, meanwhile, has had few campaign expenses as he began his first fundraising push.

“We’ve gotten off to a very strong start, and greatly appreciate the tremendous support that we have received throughout the community and beyond,” said Jeffries.

The filings are the first clear sign that Towns, who has been a prodigious fundraiser, thanks to corporate money, has a fight ahead of him.

But Chris Owens, a Democratic district leader in Towns’s district, said that it’s still to early to say whether Towns is in trouble.

“It’s not cash on hand right now that counts, it’s cash on hand next May or June that counts,” he said.

Towns raised $1.6 million last year in his last race, easily trouncing Kevin Powell.

“If people believe that he isn’t going to raise a lot of money, they’re fooling themselves,” said Owens.

An old pro like Towns likely isn’t too worried about his stockpile a year out, and appears to be working on raising cash, having spent a sizeable amount on fundraisers in the last quarter.

Towns raised $1.6 million in each of his past two races, and easily trounced Kevin Powell in the last election. Powell announced on Tuesday that he would not be seeking a third go at the seat.

A spokesman for Towns did not return an e-mail requesting comment.

Others backed the assertion that Towns still has plenty of time left. One Democratic operative said that Towns will raise $1 million no matter what, and could just be pausing from fundraising mode after leaning on his allies for cash for his daughter’s failed Assembly bid.

And others say that there’s a reason that Towns has been in office as long as he has.

“I have worked for Towns and I have worked against Towns. I’ve watched him for close to 40 years,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a veteran Democratic strategist. “Never count Ed Towns out.”

Posted 10:31 pm, October 18, 2011
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