Yesterday a reader forwarded me the email that Congressman Ed Towns sent out to Broolyn’s district leaders informing them of his desire to stand for the seat that his son Darryl is vacating.
I am asking for your support as I look to become the District Leader of the 54th Assembly. I look forward to working with you in the unification of the Kings County Democratic Party and in the furtherance of common good for Kings County, New York, and our great nation.
Edolphus ‘Ed’ Towns
The method of communication raised a few eyebrows in Brooklyn Democratic circles–“Most people would pick up the phone and call you,” as one district leader put it–but coming on the heels of the news that, as the Daily Politics reported yesterday, City Councilmember Erik Dilan is also weighing a run for the seat, a pitched backroom battle could be in the offing.
On one side sits Towns and his son Darryl, who left the spot on the State Committee and in the Assembly in order to serve as Andrew Cuomo’s housing czar. On the other, Kings County Democratic Party head Vito Lopez, who is close to Dilan and his father, state Sen. Martin Dilan. And each is waiting for the other to blink.
According to Brooklyn Democratic Party sources, Lopez can ill-afford to anger the Towns family too much, especially considering the influence that Darryl Towns will have on one of Lopez’s favorite causes–affordable housing. But Towns is also the only potential Brooklyn pol who count mount a credible challenge to Lopez’s county leadership.
Towns, many suspect, would like to keep a foot in the party, and may be angling to get a favored judicial candidate, Betty Williams, a spot on the Supreme Court.
By running Dilan however, Lopez will have created his own leverage in any possible deal.
In one scenario, Towns could get the district leader spot under the understanding that he would not field a candidate on a third-party line to run against Dilan or another Lopez ally (Dilan’s chief-of-staff, Rafael Espinal has been floated as a possible candidate if Dilan declines.)
But any deal involving judgships, state committee seats, housing project or the State Assembly could come easily come undone.
If no deal is reached and Dilan and Towns battle over the district leader job, the decision will come down to what the other district leaders decide. But complicating matters is the fact that Lopez added 11 unelected at-large loyalists to the state committee last year in order to dilute the power of a new crop of reformers. And sources both inside and outside the reform movement say that the battle could get ugly if those 11 thwart the will of the rest of the state committee, do Lopez’s bidding and make Dilan a district leader.
“I think this has the ability to fade into absolute nothing over a judgship or turn into a county-wide civil war,” said one district leader. “Just remember, Vito’s inclination is to make war even he’s at peace.”