In most cases, as the current member --and with the backing of the Congressional Black Caucus -- Towns would be an uncontested shoo-in. But according to aides, there's a great deal of concern among House Dem leaders and the White House that he simply doesn't have the bulldog-like nature to be an effective counterpoint to the aggressive Issa.
Kucinich isn't lacking for that fight -- just read his letter announcing his candidacy -- but a lot of members, not to mention the White House, are wary of Kucinich becoming ranking member. They want an on-the-reservation fighter, like Henry Waxman was in that position.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
That leaves a bit of a vacuum underneath Towns, and no obvious choice to fill it.
One person who appeals to a lot of members is Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), and he told the Huffington Post yesterday that he'd be happy to step in if Towns stepped aside. "I'd go for it in a second," he said.
But that's if Towns agreed to vacate his position. Seniority is a very big deal in the CBC, and they wouldn't take kindly to Cummings issuing a direct challenge to Towns.
We'll keep you updated on this as it develops.