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Retiring Congressman Towns Backs Former Rival Barron for His Seat

Monday, June 04, 2012 - 03:39 PM

Congressman Ed Towns, left, endorsing Councilman Charles Barron for Congress (Chester Soria/WNYC)

Six years ago, City Councilman Charles Barron and Congressman Ed Towns were in a bitter battle for Towns' seat. But on Monday afternoon, the two Brooklyn politicians stood together Barron’s East New York campaign headquarters, hands held up above their heads as a group of supporters cheered behind them.

"We need a strong voice in Washington D.C., a person that is independent and gonna tell it like it is," Towns said during a press conference announcing his support for Barron’s campaign. Towns, who announced in April he would not pursue a 16th term in Congress, promised to help Barron win the same seat they fought over.

"My organization and everything I have will go into the 8th Congressional district on your behalf," Towns said to Barron, who also recently received an endorsement from New York City’s largest public employee union, DC 37.

Barron accepted Towns' endorsement and praised the 27-year veteran politician for his work in the district.

"What better person can we have than someone who’s been around here for 30 years," Barron said. "When I go to Washington, he can help me navigate the waters of Washington."

The news of the endorsement came as a surprise to some political onlookers. When Barron--who is term limited out of another run for city council next year--announced his candidacy for Congress last November, he told the Fort Greene/Clinton Hill Local that Towns had more in common with his current political rival, Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries.

"Hakeem Jeffries and Ed Towns are cut from the same cloth," Barron said to the Local. "These guys are not independent leaders."

After Monday's event, Barron said that he would not talk about the past and that he was looking forward to talking to more Brooklyn residents in the newly formed 8th Congressional district, which include Fort Greene, Bedford-Stuyvesent, East New York, Canarsie and Coney Island. 

Shortly after the event, the Jeffries campaign responded to Towns' endorsement with a statement comparing the two candidates' agendas for the day.

"Charles Barron has emerged from the backroom to consummate a shotgun marriage with a sworn political enemy," the statement said. "Hakeem Jeffries spent today in Albany with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly advancing meaningful marijuana arrest reform legislation that will dramatically improve the lives of tens of thousands of New Yorkers each year. The contrast couldn't be any clearer."

Barron and Jeffries are still scheduled to do a televised debate on NY1 on Monday evening and public debate at the Linden Boulevard Multiplex in East New York on Thursday, June 7.

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