I’ll bet you thought that the shocking loss of senior Democratic Congressman Joe Crowley to socialist upstart Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was in the rearview mirror and everyone is just getting on with their lives, right? Maybe. But developments over the weekend indicate that this might not be a done deal yet. First of all there’s the issue of settling who is to “blame” for Crowley’s loss. But there’s also a technical question over whether or not Crowley might still be on the ballot in November.
As to the blame game, the congressman seemed ready to take the fall for his loss during an interview on Face the Nation. Or at least it seemed that way at first. (Washington Post)
Rep. Joseph Crowley, the House Democratic Caucus chairman, took personal blame for his shocking primary loss last month and sought to defuse tensions within his party on Sunday in his first extended interview since the election.
“This loss is on me,” said Crowley (N.Y.), who lost his bid for renomination for an 11th term on June 26 to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “I did not do as I preach. You know, I talk about all politics being local. I didn’t remind folks of my accomplishments. I didn’t talk about what I had done to help people in my district . . . I just took that for granted, I think.”
That much of it is probably true, though it’s being described in rather casual terms to put it mildly. Basically, Crowley assumed the race was in the bag and barely even bothered campaigning back in his district while Ocasio-Cortez and her supporters were back home knocking on doors and talking to anyone who would listen. But Crowley wasn’t entirely willing to take all the blame. (Emphasis added)
While Crowley said he took personal responsibility for his loss, he pointed to factors that he said could explain it — running as a man in what he called a “year of the woman” and a new New York state election schedule that moved congressional primaries from early September to late June, putting them on a separate schedule from state and local races.
Is it just me or did Crowley just blame his loss on the #MeToo movement? It certainly sounded that way. But the bitterness between the two candidates hasn’t entirely calmed down yet either, gender notwithstanding. Ocasio-Cortez was on Twitter recently blaming Crowley for not making a scheduled concession call and accusing him of mounting a third-party challenge.
.@repjoecrowley stated on live TV that he would absolutely support my candidacy.
Instead, he’s stood me up for all 3 scheduled concession calls.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 12, 2018
The kvetching over the concession call can be written off as sour grapes on either side, but what about that third-party thing? As it turns out, Crowley was the candidate who was tapped for the Working Families Party line on the ballot in the primary. They’re a big leftist party in New York and they always qualify for a spot on the general election ballot, similar to the New York Conservative Party on the right. They received enough votes to qualify again in Crowley’s district so he will still appear on the general election ballot as a candidate.
The only way to legally be removed under New York election law would be to move out of the district or to accept the nomination for another office in November. It’s too late for the latter and Crowley says he’s not changing his address because that would constitute election fraud. So here’s the big exit question for the peanut gallery. If voters show up in November and see both Crowley’s name and that of the socialist, Ocasio-Cortez, could they split the vote far enough that the Republican candidate might stand a chance? Hillary Clinton carried this district with something like 80% of the vote in 2016 so it would require a miraculously big lift, but it’s at least something to keep an eye on.