It looks like this re-energized bunny has already run out of juice.
Just three days after the high-octane launch of his re-election campaign at the steps of Borough Hall, Rep. Ed Towns (D–Fort Greene) skipped a debate last night, giving second-time challenger Kevin Powell a free shot at him.
The debate sponsored by the Brooklyn Chapter of Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, but like Towns, Sharpton was a no-show at the Bethany Baptist Church in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
Towns’s campaign called Sharpton’s group earlier in the day and said that the congressman was in Washington and could not attend.
“That should tell you a lot,” Cencerra Edwards, a spokeswoman for the Brooklyn Chapter of the National Action Network, told the audience. “If they cannot come here to answer your questions, than that should be a concern.”
Powell started the night in a natty three-piece suit, but quickly started shedding parts of it until he was down to just his rolled-up, “I’m gonna work hard for you” sleeves and slacks. The former reality TV star and writer with past incidents of violence towards women, rattled off a new platform about the economy and health care that put him more in line with President Obama — a good move in a district that Obama dominated, yet handed Powell just 33 percent of the vote against Towns two years ago.
But instead of harping back to his time on MTV’s “The Real World,” he drove home the point that he was raised by a single parent in New Jersey. He also mentioned that he had just published his 10th book, “Open Letters To America” his version of Obama’s “The Audacity of Hope.”
Powell spent a good deal of his speech focusing on health, education and crime concerns in the less-affluent sections of the 10th district. During his 2008 run, our Courier-Life sister paper argued in its endorsement of Towns that Powell ignored the district’s “real world” and must have thought the district ended at the corner of Bedford and Atlantic avenues.
Overall, Powell needled the absent Towns, describing him as a career politician who, after 27 years in office, was no longer pursuing the public’s interests, but his own.
“I’m sure 27 years ago he wanted to help the community, but after the first 20 years his plans became, ‘I’m going to take care of myself and my family,’ ” he said. “Now, everyone else is getting neglected.”
Hank Sheinkopf, Towns’s campaign spokesman, confirmed that Congress was in session on Thursday and that the incumbent was in D.C.
“Kevin Powell can do whatever he wants,” he said. “Towns is in Washington doing the work he was elected to do.”
Powell faces an uphill climb against Towns, who has been more visible since he got the chairmanship of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in the wake of the Democratic takeover of Congress.
Towns is now a nationally recognized figure and has $195,656 cash on hand for his re-election, according to recent campaign filings. Powell has just $47,211.