It’s the MTV kid versus the golden oldie for Congress.
Forty-two-year-old hip-hop writer and MTV “Real World” alum Kevin Powell has announced a second run against 13-term incumbent Rep. Ed Towns (D–Fort Greene).
And this time, Towns, who won with just 47 percent of the vote in a three-way contest in 2006, says he won’t underestimate his competition.
“I made a mistake a couple of years ago when I didn’t take a candidate seriously,” said Towns, speaking of a race that included Councilman Charles Barron (D–Canarsie) and Assemblyman Roger Green (D–Fort Greene).
Powell had also been in the race early, but dropped out.
For all his talk of taking Powell seriously, Towns’s first comments on his opponent indicated that he’s doing just the opposite.
“I don’t know this Kevin Powell and I don’t know anything that he’s done,” he said.
Powell declared his candidacy on April 27 at a crowded fundraiser at a Fort Greene soul food restaurant, The Five Spot.
“I know the story of David and Goliath, and I love being David,” Powell said.
Comparing the outsider candidate with the Biblical underdog might be an understatement considering Towns’s deep pockets.
By the beginning of March, Towns had raised $710,444 — and spent more than $500,000 on the campaign already.
Powell — whose latest records are from the end of 2007 — raised a puny $8,825 by comparison, but he’s still optimistic.
“I’m going to be the first person from the hip-hop generation to make it to Congress,” he said.
Local political experts aren’t so sure of that.
“Barron and Green were both stronger candidates,” one Brooklyn politico said. “Both of them were elected officials. Both of them ran for office and won. Both of them were proven fundraisers — you can’t say the same things about Kevin Powell.”
Barron — who still believes he would have won in 2006 had Green not split the anti-Towns vote — has endorsed Powell.
“I’m used to being able to say ‘Power to the people,’” the former Black Panther said. “But now I can say, ‘Powell for the people.’”
At the April 27 fundraiser, Powell didn’t waste much time before digging into Towns’s record, calling him out for missing nearly 1,000 votes since 1993, supporting Atlantic Yards, failing to attend anti–Iraq War rallies, and failing to organize community forums about affordable rents housing and the mortgage crises — alongside more personal critiques.
“He spends more time in Florida than he does in Brooklyn, New York at this point,” Powell said.
Days after the criticism from Powell, Towns announced that he will host a May 3 town hall meeting on predatory lending.
Still, he dismissed Powell’s attack on his record by going negative against the candidate.
“He says that he’s an organizer because Obama talks about being an organizer,” Towns said of Powell, who has touted his support for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. “He says he’s for change because Obama says he’s for change.”