Politics

Crowley Talks Primary Loss, Democratic Leadership Elections

'I will see this term through to the end of the year,' the New York Democrat said.

Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley held his first press conference Wednesday with reporters since his primary loss, reflecting on that experience and making clear he doesn’t intend to depart Congress early. 

“I will see this term through to the end of the year,” the New York Democrat said. 

His loss to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was personally difficult for him and that while he wished the outcome had been different he accepts responsibility, he said.

“I think there a confluence of things that led to this loss, but I will say, this is on me,” he said.

The loss was not for lack of effort by his campaign staff and volunteers, Crowley said. “We ran a good campaign, it was just not successful.”

And after a public Twitter spat, Crowley said he finally connected with Ocasio-Cortez last week for what he characterized as a “brief conversation.” He said he congratulated her on her victory but did not provide other details regarding their conversation.

Crowley said the reason he did not talk to Oscaio-Cortez the night of the primary to concede the race to her was that they did not have each other’s cell phone numbers.

“Maybe that’s more reflective of the fact that people didn’t see this coming, nor did we,” he said. 

As for the issue in which he still remains on the ballot for the general election as the Working Families Party candidate, Crowley reiterated that he’s not running. 

While he emphasized that he has not directly communicated with leaders of the Working Families Party, Crowley said through indirect conversations with his staff it was communicated they wanted him to run for a county clerk post in upstate New York so his name could be removed from the ballot.

Crowley said he has never lived in that county, nor does he plan to move there or have interest in holding the clerk position. He said moving his name to that ballot could hurt the Democrat who currently holds the position.

“I also don’t want to give up my franchise, the right to vote in my election by doing that — in my district for governor or any other office as well,” he said. 

Asked if he is saying he doesn’t want people to vote for him, he said, “Well I said I’m not running. I’ve consistently said that.”

Leadership elections

Crowley also communicated his intentions to stay on as caucus chair, saying he’ll be presiding over House Democrats’ leadership elections in December. 

The caucus voted Tuesday to hold the elections sometime after December 5, a decision Crowley said was unanimous and intended to give all the Democrats who are elected in November — especially what they hope will be a large freshmen class — time to get to know the candidates before voting.

The race to replace Crowley as caucus chair is already underway with California Reps. Linda Sanchez and Barbara Lee having officially declared bids for the post. 

Crowley said he is not endorsing in that race and does not intend to “at this point” because it should be up the new Democratic Caucus for next year to decide who its leadership will be. 

Nonetheless, Crowley has indicated a preference for Sanchez. He issued a statement praising her after she announced her candidacy but did not do the same for Lee. 

On Wednesday he further complimented Sanchez, who also participated in the press conference since she’s currently the vice chair of the caucus. 

Linda Sanchez is one of my closest friends in the House of Representatives, someone I have tremendous respect and administration for,” he said, adding, “She’s a great leader of our caucus as well.” 

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