Democratic Congressman Joe Crowley represented New York’s 14th District in the U.S. House of Representatives, but his 2018 re-election hopes were dashed by a shocking primary loss in June 2018.
Who Is Joe Crowley?
Joe Crowley (born March 16, 1962, as Joseph Crowley) is a Democratic politician who served in the New York state legislature before going on to represent parts of Queens and the Bronx in the U.S. House of Representatives. As chair of the House Democratic Caucus, he ranked fourth in Democratic leadership. Crowley, a Queens native, also chaired the Queens Democratic Party, which gave him a power base in New York City politics. In 2018, he faced his first primary opponent — 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — since 2004. Crowley lost the Democratic primary on June 26, 2018.
2018 Primary vs. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
On June 26, 2018, Congressman Crowley was soundly defeated by Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — 42% to 57% — in the Democratic primary for New York's U.S. House District 14. Crowley's loss came as a surprise: He had won 82% of the vote in 2016, had not faced a primary opponent for 14 years and had outspent Ocasio-Cortez. In addition, he led the Queens Democratic Party (a powerful position in a heavily Democratic area).
During the primary Crowley was characterized by Ocasio-Cortez as being out of touch with his constituents (according to the New York Times, his own campaign polling revealed he wasn't well known). The 10-term Congressman lived in Virginia with his family, where his children attended school (though he maintained a home in Queens). Ocasio-Cortez also criticized Crowley for taking campaign funds from Wall Street and accused him of profiting off of foreclosures (the area had been devastated by foreclosures in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, but Crowley had allies in the Queens Democratic Party whose law firm represented banks foreclosing on homes). In addition, negative publicity resulted when Crowley missed two debates against Ocasio-Cortez, once sending a surrogate in his place.
Crowley's campaign was also unable to match Ocasio-Cortez's grassroots and social media enthusiasm: While an Ocasio-Cortez biographical video had more than 500,000 views on Twitter by the day of the primary, a Crowley video had been seen less than 90,000 times. And the district, which is comprised of parts of Queens and the Bronx, has a population that is approximately 50% Hispanic and 20% white, so the Latina Ocasio-Cortez better reflected its demographics than the Irish-American Crowley.
Crowley was the first incumbent Democratic House member to lose a primary race in 2018. He soon issued a statement that congratulated Ocasio-Cortez and said, "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." Crowley, a singer and guitarist, also dedicated a song — "Born to Run" — to Ocasio-Cortez at his election night gathering.
Crowley was elected to Congress in 1998 from New York's 7th District. After redistricting following the 2010 census, he was elected from New York's 14th District in 2012.
Crowley's initial entry into Congress was smoothed by a political ally. Thomas Manton, Crowley's predecessor and mentor, announced his retirement from Congress late in the 1998 campaign cycle, allowing Crowley to step in as the replacement Democratic nominee.
In Congress, Crowley supported progressive goals such as a universal Medicare bill and a $15-per-hour minimum wage. While pushing for comprehensive immigration reform, he was arrested at an immigration rally in 2013. He served on the Ways and Means Committee.
House Democratic Leadership
Crowley became chairman of the Democratic Caucus in 2017, making him No. 4 in Democratic leadership. He was a prolific fundraiser for the Democratic Party and, until his primary defeat, seen as a potential Speaker of the House.
When Was Joe Crowley Born?
Joe Crowley was born on March 16, 1962, in Queens, New York.
Early Life and Education
Crowley grew up in Woodside, Queens. He attended Power Memorial High School and is a 1985 graduate of Queens College, City University of New York.
Early Political Career
Crowley was a member of the New York state legislature from 1987 to 1998.
Queens Democratic Party
In 2006, Crowley became leader of the Queens Democratic Party. As chair he held a great deal of influence in the selection of political and judicial candidates — and since the area is a Democratic stronghold, these candidates almost always won election.
Wife and Children
Crowley and his wife Kasey have three children.
Crowley's father was a police officer of Irish descent; his mother emigrated from Ireland's County Armagh.
One of Crowley's cousins, Fire Department Battalion Chief John Moran, died while responding to the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Other Crowley cousins have served on the New York City Council and the Queens Supreme Court.
What Is Joe Crowley's Net Worth?
According to Opensecrets.org, Crowley's net worth was approximately $426,521 in 2014.