Congressman Joe Crowley
By Ray O’Hanlon
In a political upheaval that has made national and indeed international headlines, Congressman Joe Crowley lost a Democratic primary race in his Queens, New York, congressional district on Tuesday.
In what was a stunning upset for the Democratic Party establishment, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, (28), and a supporter of Senator Bernie Sanders, captured a clear majority of primary votes in the 14th District, which straddles Queens and the Bronx.
Crowley, a ten term incumbent, the number four Democrat in his party’s House hierarchy, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, and a representative widely tipped as being a future House Speaker, conceded to his rival when the numbers signaled a roughly 58 to 42 percent advantage to his challenger.
Crowley’s loss, in addition to the shockwaves it will send through Democratic ranks in New York City and in Washington, is also a significant blow to Irish America’s political agenda as the congressman has been a longtime leading voice for Irish American concerns on Capitol Hill.
Crowley is this year’s Irish Echo Irish American of the Year, an acknowledgement by this paper of his decades-long commitment to Irish America’s issues and concerns.
In a conceding statement Crowley said: “It has been the honor of a lifetime to represent Queens and the Bronx. I am proud of the race we ran and, more importantly, proud of all of the work we’ve done to advance this community.
“I want to congratulate Ms. Ocasio-Cortez on her victory tonight. I look forward to supporting her and all Democrats this November. The Trump administration is a threat to everything we stand for here in Queens and the Bronx, and if we don't win back the House this November, we will lose the nation we love.
This is why we must come together. We will only be able to stop Donald Trump and the Republican Congress by working together, as a united Democratic Party."
Married and a father of three, Rep. Crowley, who is 56, has represented New York's 14th congressional district since redistricting ended his incumbency in New York’s 7th district.
Crowley represent the 7th district from 1999 to 2013. The 14th is seen as being one of the most diverse districts in the country.
Crowley is chairman of the Queens County Democratic Party and became chair of the House Democratic Caucus in 2017. His congressional career goes back to his first house election win 1998.
Crowley was born in New York City, the son of an Irish-American father and an immigrant mother from County Armagh. He was a member of the New York State Assembly from 1987 to 1998.