In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Inside The High Stakes Fight To Take On Darrell Issa

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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.

About The Author

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Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com