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Bx. man challenges Crowley for House

Longtime U.S. Rep Joseph Crowley (D−Jackson Heights) has a challenger for the 7th Congressional District, but how big a threat that challenger poses remains to be seen.

William Britt, a Bronx resident who is the treasurer for the Bronx Conservative Party, is running against Crowley.

The incumbent has raised $1.9 million for his re−election, Federal Election Commission records show. He has spent $1.6 million of that money, according to the FEC.

Britt, 58, a retired chiropractor and former city employee, has not raised any money at all, according to FEC records.

“If somebody’s going to vote for me, they shouldn’t have to pay me,” he said. “But I do understand the reasoning for it. Yet, if I did, there’s no possible way I could match the funds Joe Crowley has already.”

Crowley was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1998 after a 12−year stint in the state Assembly. He is also the chairman of the Queens Democratic Party.

“If re−elected, I will work to find commonsense solutions to revitalize our economy, create good−paying jobs, eliminate our dependence on foreign oil, make health care affordable and bring our troops home from Iraq,” he said in a statement on his campaign Web site.

Britt said he opposes any plans to nationalize health care and said he would work to provide his constituents with more input on how to allocate federal funding to their district. He also proposed allocating funds to dredge waterways in Queens around sewage outlets.

“They should have been dredging all along,” he said. “You can see that out by Jamaica Bay. You can see that around Flushing Bay. They’re not mud flats anymore. They’re just sewer dumping from our storm systems.”

Crowley won re−election in 2006 with nearly 84 percent of the vote. Britt has previously run for state Assembly in the Bronx in 2000, 2002 and 2004, losing with 0.3 percent, 1 percent and 0.4 percent of the vote, respectively.

Crowley’s top donors were in the insurance and securities industries, according to the nonpartisan research group Center for Responsive Politics.

He sits on the House Ways and Means Committee, which oversees the nation’s tax and trade policies, as well as Social Security and Medicare.

Kate Winkler, Crowley’s communications director, said contributions from the financial services industry are to be expected, given that their headquarters is in New York City.

“He [also] receives a broad array of support from folks in the health care community, folks in the animal rights community. I think all those people know Joe votes on behalf of his district,” she said.

Crowley is also the House’s chief deputy whip, making him the highest−ranking New York member among House Democrats.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e−mail at jwalsh@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 154.

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