Rep. Edolphus Towns asked his Democratic colleagues Friday for support to become the ranking member on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee next Congress, even as rumors swirled he may face a challenge.
The New York Democrat pledged to “work closely with [his] fellow committee Democrats to form a bulwark against any politically motivated investigations,” in a letter sent to colleagues.
“Any attempt to use this Committee as a political weapon to tear down this Administration is intolerable and I will use every tool at my disposal to ensure this does not occur,” Towns wrote.
The letter appears to be — at least in part — an attempt to shore up support as Republicans, including presumptive committee Chairman Darrell Issa (Calif.), take aim at the Obama administration.
Democratic sources have speculated that one or more members of the committee could try to challenge Towns for the post. A Towns spokeswoman did not respond to phone requests.
Potential candidates for the ranking member slot include Reps. Carolyn Maloney (N.Y.), Elijah Cummings (Md.) and Dennis Kucinich (Ohio), the other top Democrats on the panel.
But a Maloney spokesman on Friday afternoon said his boss was not interested in running and that she supported Towns.
A spokesman for Cummings declined comment.
Kucinich’s office did not immediately respond.
Towns is viewed in some Democratic circles as ripe for a challenge, and a senior Democratic aide speculated that Cummings might make a play for the post.
“We need someone who’s ready to do battle, not just keep a seat warm,” the aide said. “It’s an ideal position for a Democrat who’s looking to defend the administration and enhance their profile.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.