After several unsuccessful attempts to rise on the leadership track, Crowley, a titan in New York politics, has not run for a contested position since 2006, when he lost a bid for the Caucus vice chairmanship against Larson. Crowley has continued to grow his presence, however, as leader of the New Democrat Coalition. But his track record of losing contested leadership elections suggests his future may not be as bright as that of Van Hollen or Wasserman Schultz. Still, Crowley, a chief deputy whip, wields influence in the Caucus as a prolific fundraiser and frequent spokesman on many policy issues.
Caucus Vice Chairman Xavier Becerra is also among the lawmakers discussed as moving up the leadership ranks. However, the California Democrat, who is a Pelosi ally, has yet to break through on any specific issues as a party spokesman.
The lone dark horse among the top candidates is Rep. Heath Shuler (N.C.). While most aides and K Streeters don’t give the conservative Democrat much chance of leading the Caucus, he earned credibility as a potential leader when he challenged Pelosi for the top position in January. Shuler received 11 votes for Speaker in a token challenge to Pelosi.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.