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Posted at 9:26 AM ET, 11/17/2010

Kucinich challenges Towns for top Gov. Reform panel slot

By Ben Pershing

Updated 11:20 a.m.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (Ohio) announced Wednesday that he would challenge Rep. Edolphus Towns (N.Y.) for the top Democratic slot on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, setting up competition for the role of chief defender of the Obama administration and chief protector of the federal workforce in the 112th Congress.

Towns is currently the chairman of the panel and is planning to slide over to become the ranking member when Republicans take control in January. But some Democrats worry that the New Yorker won't provide an effective counterpunch to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who will take over as committee chairman. Issa is energetic and media-savvy, and widely expected to launch multiple probes of the Obama administration -- as the OGR committee traditionally does when the House and the White House are controlled by different parties.

Kucinich is currently fifth in seniority on the panel's Democratic roster, making his campaign an uphill climb given that his party typically gives very heavy weight to seniority in making committee choices.

In a letter
to his Democratic colleagues announcing his bid, Kucinich called the choice of the OGR ranking slot "perhaps the most important vote" in organizing for the next Congress. "This is because [Issa] has already made wild and unsubstantiated charges which threaten to turn the principal oversight committee of the House into a witch hunt," Kucinich wrote.

Kucinich also alleged that Issa "reveals a lack of restraint and basic fairness. ... We cannot simply stand by idly and hope that such a reckless approach to the use of the power of the Chair will not happen, especially since it is not only being promised, but demonstrated by the person who will hold the gavel."

An Issa spokesman declined to comment on Kucinich's letter.

Towns, for his part, is moving forward with his own bid for the job.

"Based on the overwhelming support Rep. Towns is receiving from fellow Democrats, he is confident that he will be Ranking Member," said Towns spokeswoman Jenny Rosenberg. "Rep. Towns firmly believes that his record of accomplishments as chairman -- including a wide-ranging investigation into the federal bailout that resulted in recovering more than $400 million for taxpayers, comprehensive Recovery Act oversight that created three million jobs and improper payments legislation that President Obama signed into law -- make him the best candidate for this important position. ...

"Chairman Towns has clearly stated that any attempt to use this committee as a political weapon are intolerable and he will lead a strong and unified resistance against any such effort."

Kucinich is a hero to many liberals, particularly among the grassroots, but Towns will likely have the full support of the powerful Congressional Black Caucus. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), a former CBC chair who is ahead of Kucinich on the roster, had been mentioned as a possible challenger as well but he said this week that he supported Towns for the post.

In addition to being the primary oversight panel, the OGR committee also has jurisdiction over the District and the federal workforce, which will make it a key battleground as Republicans seek to cut government spending in the next Congress. Democrats will make their choices for this and other committee posts when they return to session after Thanksgiving.

By Ben Pershing  | November 17, 2010; 9:26 AM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency, Capitol Briefing  | Tags:  dennis kucinich; edolphus towns; darrell issa; oversight and government reform  
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I pray whomever is the ranking member shuts Issa up with his sweet heart real estate deals in SD County.

Over a $3 MILLION discount on commercial property that WAS in foreclosure, all of a sudden taken out of foreclosure.

Posted by: marinemommilof3 | November 24, 2010 7:18 AM | Report abuse

Kucinich in his letter accuses Issa of calling President Obama 'the most corrupt president of modern times."

Why wasn't this on the front page of WaPo?

Posted by: FarnazMansouri2 | November 20, 2010 10:09 PM | Report abuse

", a pure whack job. What has this party come to?"

What 'this party' has come to is just a pale copy of the Republican Party. We need someone like Kucinich to remind all the wiseguys at the DNC that winning elections is pointless if it means following the Republican agenda. There hasn't been a Democratic president since LBJ. The Dem Party deserves to go the same way as the Whig Party 150 years ago.

Posted by: aybayb | November 18, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Dennis Kucinich is the most serious and most principled member in Congress. I hope he will make another run for president. He is a genuine "man of the people".

As a progressive/liberal I can vouch for the fact that he is NOT considered a "nutcase". Take a look at his record: supports single-payer healthcare, has been outspoken in his opposition to the wars that so many "Democrats" were afraid to oppose, supports a woman's right to choose, supports EQUAL rights (including marriage!) for LGBTQ citizens, opposes the misnamed "Patriot Act", supports the prosecution of the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld gang for war crimes and for shredding The Constitution, supports tougher enforcement of environmental regulations, supports repeal of "Don't Ask...Don't Tell" military policy..............

I could go on; but even a cursory review of his record shows that he has been in the forefront of those advocating for progressive CHANGE...and he has not been shy or equivocal in his support for "We The People" against the corporate interests. His refusal, as Mayor, to allow the privatization of Cleveland's public power company, though criticized at the time, is now acknowledged as one of his greatest triumphs.

Kucinich's positions on all issues are enthusiastically supported by any genuine 'progressive' I've ever met. Furthermore, his positions on most of these issues have gradually been adopted by significant majorities of the general public. [Check out the polling data on support for these progressive positions]

The fact is that Congressman Kucinich has always been a LEADER in the struggle for justice, peace, and equality for all. I've had to vote for Green Party candidates in the last 5 or 6 presidential elections, and I am proud to support the Green Party platform; but I'd vote for Dennis Kucinich against ANYBODY. Frankly, I wish Kucinich would lead an effort to bring progressive "Democrats" into a revitalized Green Party.

It's time to put an end to the Republocrat strategy of "Lesser Evilism"!

Posted by: aybayb | November 18, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Kuncinich should be supported in this --Towns is not strong or verbal enough to deal with the camera loving Issa... Mr. Grandstand will be backed to the wall with Dennis on the Committee and will not be able to turn this into to his privte side show..issa will still be the clown but it will not be him in the limelight!

Go them and support him!1.866.311.3405 or 1.866.220.0044!

Posted by: jetlone | November 18, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Kucinich isn't a hero to most liberals, most of us think he is a nut job. If he was the ranking member, and the dems took back the house, I would not want him in that spot. He would be having investigations into every conspiracy you could think of, and would look terrible for the party.

Posted by: jtackeff | November 17, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse, a pure whack job. What has this party come to?

Posted by: thump2 | November 17, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Congressman Kucinich is a man of priniciple and that is exactly what the Dems need.......

Posted by: glenn113 | November 17, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Go Dennis!!!

Posted by: glenn113 | November 17, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

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