Updated: 4:42 p.m.
Rep. Edolphus Towns is accusing Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) of thwarting his efforts to become ranking member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee for the 112th Congress.
“I decided to withdraw my candidacy following a conversation with you when you made it clear that I did not have your support,” the New York Democrat said to Pelosi in a letter Wednesday.
Towns made the last-minute decision Tuesday to withdraw his bid to serve as the top Democrat on the Oversight panel next year. He has served as chairman during the 111th Congress.
“As a result of these developments, I am reclaiming my seat on the Energy and Commerce Committee with full seniority and all rights and privileges, including the grandfather clause which allows me to have a seat on both the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform,” Towns wrote.
Towns said in his letter that he has held a seat on that panel since 1989. According to his website, he took a leave of absence from the committee two years ago. Towns told Pelosi he wanted the matter resolved this year.
With Towns’ departure, two Members are vying to replace him as the top Democrat: Reps. Elijah Cummings (Md.) and Carolyn Maloney (N.Y.)
Pelosi spokesman Nadeam Elshami said the California Democrat has stayed out of committee leadership races.
“Speaker Pelosi supported Mr. Towns to be chairman of the committee two years ago, but she has left the election of all ranking members to the members of the Steering committee and to the Caucus,” he said.
A Democratic aide agreed, pointing to the tight race on the Ways and Means Committee between Reps. Sander Levin (Mich.) and Richard Neal (Mass.). Neal got the support of the Steering panel to become ranking member, but Levin won the position after the Caucus voted in his favor.
“If he had not announced he was not running, there would be no race for ranking member,” the aide said.