Switcharoo: Towns Out Of Oversight Spot, Kucinich Backs Cummings

Rep. Ed Towns (D-NY) made the surprise announcement on Tuesday night that he’ll be stepping down as ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, setting up a fight between Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Elijah Cummings (D-MD) for the right to square off with incoming Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA).

“After much thought, Chairman Towns today made the decision not to seek the Ranking Member position on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee,” a spokesman said in a statement.Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), who had been in the running for the ranking member spot, dropped out of the race and threw his support behind Cummings on Tuesday night.

“When I announced my candidacy for Ranking Member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, I did so out of concern for a strong Democratic response Chairman Issa. Even before I announced my candidacy, I made it clear to members across the caucus that I thought that Congressman Cummings would be able to meet the challenge, and that if he was a candidate, I would support him,” Kucinich said in a statement sent to TPM.

“My bid has never been about my own personal advancement. It has been about protecting the oversight process from abuse. Mr. Cummings is well prepared for the challenge. Tomorrow, I will recommend to the Steering and Policy Committee and to the Democratic Caucus that they choose Mr. Cummings as Ranking Member,” Kucinich said. “I have accomplished what I have set out to do, and that is to make sure that Democrats will have a very strong hand in the oversight process,” added Kucinich.

Meanwhile, Maloney circulated a letter to members of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee on Tuesday touting her qualifications for the post and pledging she’d be a “tough adversary and strong fighter as Ranking Member.”

Additional reporting by Rachel Slajda.