Crowley to Seek Chairmanship of New Democrat Coalition

Posted March 20, 2009 at 9:42pm

Updated: March 21, 8:58 a.m.

Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) has decided to seek the chairmanship of the business-friendly New Democrat Coalition, sources with knowledge of the decision said.

While the leadership of the group will need to sign off on the Queens Democrat, his deep-rooted support in the group makes his ascension all but assured.

Rep. Melissa Bean (D-Ill.), currently a vice chair of the group, is expected to replace Crowley in the second-ranking whip position, sources close to the group said.

The developments follow the announcement this week by current Chairwoman Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) that she expects to quit the House for an undersecretary post in the State Department.

Crowley has long sought a perch in House Democratic leadership — he unsuccessfully tried to win the caucus vice chairmanship in 2006 and mulled another run for that slot after the November elections — and was thought to be considering the New Democrat’s top job with those ambitions in mind. Heading the group, already a proven force in this Congress, is sure to further elevate Crowley’s profile. But it could also compel him to take stands against the leadership, complicating a future bid to join their ranks.

It will also mean yet another hat atop several that Crowley is already balancing: Chief Deputy Whip, top fundraiser for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and chairman of the Queens County Democratic Party.

Sources said Crowley met with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) before making up his mind.