Former Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley (NY) argued that President Donald Trump may have been the catalyst that drove Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) to oust him from his congressional seat.
Crowley joined Democratic pollster Zac McCrary on his “Pro Politics” podcast for a discussion on the 2018 upset, more than 30 years in public office and his life since. The former Chair of the House Democratic Caucus also spoke of his better understanding of Trump’s influence.
“I have a better, real clear understanding of just how powerful the election of Donald Trump was. In many respects,” Crowley said, “it lit the fire onto the base of our party, and I think that’s a good thing in many respects, you know.”
On Trump, he suggested that you shouldn’t speak of a person if you don’t have anything positive to say before going ahead and saying he was someone he “never wanted to be associated with.”
Crowley emphasized that, though he represented the 14th Congressional District for 20 years, the seat didn’t belong to him. “A congressional district is not owned by any one person,” he said in part. “It was owned by the people…and I look back very fondly on my years of service, the people I got to meet, to know.”
Trump, Crowley believes, “created the energy [the Democrats] needed to oust him as president in four years.” That energy for change is what led to the fervor in the primary, he suggested, and ultimately his loss to Ocasio-Cortez.
However, Crowley’s revisionist history of blaming Trump doesn’t stand up to the facts. In the 2018 election, Crowley was one of only four incumbent legislators who lost in the primary out of 378 House members seeking to maintain their office.
In his position as Caucus Chair, Crowley was considered to be a favorite to succeed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in her leadership role. The 2019 book, “The Hill to Die On,” by Politico reporters Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer argued that Crowley was too cocky.
“It wasn’t just that Crowley didn’t want to go dirty; he thought it would be a sign of weakness in D.C. if he was seen in a tight race against Ocasio-Cortez,” they wrote. “He was supposed to be the next Democratic leader, not someone who had to fight for reelection.”
“Crowley had plenty of fodder he could’ve used against Ocasio-Cortez,” they explained, “but his top New York campaign operatives decided to take the punches and not hit back.” Crowley’s campaign allegedly knew of the campaign finance violations that Ocasio-Cortez would later be run afoul of with the Federal Elections Commission.
The only other Democrat to lose a primary that year was Rep. Michael Capuano (MA) whose seat was won by another member of the “Squad,” Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA).
Crowley has since gone on to involve himself in art projects like the production of a Broadway play. “If I was still in the House of Representatives, I could not be a top-line, co-producer of a musical that will open this April 3,” Crowley said of the upcoming release of Paradise Square.
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