Incumbent Ed Towns was making calls Sunday night telling friends, supporters and some members of the New York delegation that he was dropping out of the race for the re-drawn 8th Congressional seat, two sources told the Daily News.Towns had run the most weirdly invisible campaign possible, cancelling important meetings at the last minute, refusing to raise real money despite a serious primary threat, and even failing to return repeated calls from reporters about mundane topics. I guess he simply couldn't admit to himself (and the public) that he didn't have it in him for one more term, but I would have been a lot more shocked had he said he was actually going to seek re-election. I suppose he could still throw us a curveball Monday morning, but for now, I believe these reports.
Calls to Towns and his staff were not immediately returned.
Towns, 77, was facing a bruising primary fight against two Democratic challengers, City Councilman Charles Barron and state Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries.
And assuming they're true, this is good news for progressives. Towns was a useless and often amoral backbencher, while Jeffries has a reputation as a reformer. He'll now have to contend with the incendiary and unacceptable Barron in the primary, but Jeffries definitely is in the driver's seat. He has the support of the Working Families Party and is likely to collect many more union endorsement—plus the Democratic establishment will do everything in its power to keep Barron from winning. (Just one example: After Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi was killed, Barron called him "my hero, an African freedom fighter.")
In this safely Democratic seat, whoever wins the primary is also assured of winning the general election. And with the filing deadline on Monday, no one else will have the opportunity to get in, unless Towns takes the unusual step of submitting his petitions, then stepping aside and allowing his campaign committee to designate a replacement. (Something New York law allows and which he could possibly do on behalf of his son, former Assemblyman Darryl Towns, but it seems unlikely.)