July 2, 2008

Perhaps I'm dating myself, but do you remember the first season of "Real World" on MTV?

Kevin Powell was the poetry-writing community organizer that was (fairly or unfairly, I'm not sure) portrayed as the "angry young black man" on that season. Now he's challenging moderate Democrat Edolphus Towns for his congressional seat. Howie:

There is a serious challenge in another part of Brooklyn, a very different part of Brooklyn. Yesterday's NY Times focused on the insurgent primary against shady Bedford Stuyvesant/Ft Greene incumbent Edolphus Towns, a corporate shill for Big Pharma and telecoms and one of the notorious CAFTA-15. He's another Al Wynn in terms of voting for The Man both on the bankruptcy bill that has devastated his own constituents and on the estate tax, which is basically fine for people who have hundreds of millions of dollars but not too good for inner city working and middle class families. [..]

Brooklyn's 10th Congressional District, home to more African-Americans than any other in New York, gave Senator Barack Obama his highest margin of victory in the state. But the district's longtime congressman, Edolphus Towns, did not share his constituency's preference for Mr. Obama. Now some of those voters are pushing to oust him.

"His decision not to back Obama shows he is out of touch with his constituents," said N. Chandler, a former city corrections officer who lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant and who had supported Mr. Towns in the past. "And I think the people of this district are ready for a change."

...An emerging young black political class is seeking to assert the neighborhood's power against what it sees as an older establishment, based in Harlem, that has long exercised disproportionate influence in New York. The younger Democratic activists link... Mr. Towns, the son of a North Carolina sharecropper and a 25-year veteran in Congress, to that structure.

Mr. Towns cannot afford to take the challenge lightly. Two years ago, he won with less than 50 percent of the vote in a three-way race. The man who is running against him now, Kevin Powell, is a community organizer who has the backing of celebrities like the comedian Dave Chappelle, who is scheduled to headline a fund-raiser for Mr. Powell. [He was on the first season of MTV's The Real World back in 1992, "the brooding, angst-ridden young black man with the hi-top fade" and then went on to be a star journalist for Vibe Magazine.][..]

If elected, he would become the first and the most identifiable member of the hip-hop generation ever to serve in the U.S. Congress. On national issues, both Powell and Towns oppose the war in Iraq and support a single-payer healthcare system. But while campaigning on Memorial Day, Powell told practically every resident he encountered about the catalyst for his candidacy: The incumbent's "absent and ineffective advocacy" on a host of local needs. "What we need in Congress from this district, as we enter a new presidential administration and a new decade, is active leadership that deals with the concerns of regular working-class people," he says.

I'm not sure if Powell has a good shot at overtaking a 25 year incumbent, but I'm all in favor of putting challengers out there to remind these long-term politicos that they are supposed to be representing their constituency.

Can you help us out?

For nearly 20 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.