Houses Races are inherently boring. Competition is usually minimal and elections are often won before people even go to the polls. The majority of House Districts are very partisan to one Party or another. It is not uncommon for House candidates to run uncontested in many Districts dominated by their Party.
Like many other House Races, New York’s 14th Congressional District House Race would be uninteresting to follow. The Democratic Party has controlled this District for years now, consistently blowing out conservative candidates. This District has been unwinnable for anyone not representing the Democratic Party. But this year, the notion of the 14th District’s election already being won has been thrown out of the window. As Election Day nears, it has become almost impossible to predict who will win. The possibility of Republican Anthony Pappas winning in this strongly Democratic District is very real, and it has nothing to do with Pappas himself and everything to do with what’s going on within the Democratic Party.
The Democratic Primaries…
Incumbent Joe Crowley was supposed to win this District easily, as he had done many times in the past. He had sailed through all his previous District elections and had last seen a challenger in the primaries nearly 15 years ago. Additionally, he is the No. 4 Democrat in the House and has been speculated to succeed Nancy Pelosi as the Democratic Leader of the House. However this year he shockingly didn’t even get out of the Democratic primaries.
Despite his history and ranking, Crowley was unable to defeat political newcomer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who ran on a Democrat Socialist platform, hoping to bring change to the Democratic Party in big ways. Crowley’s loss was the most significant loss for a Democratic incumbent in nearly a decade.
Ocasio-Cortez’s victory was shocking, to say the least, but to her credit, she ran a great campaign. Being just 28 years old and of Latino descent, she was able to relate to many underrepresented minorities in the District, such as younger voters and Latinos. Despite being grossly outspent, she ran a social media-driven campaign, which reached many young voters. The results showed in the polls where there was a higher turnout among younger voters, who chose her over the older Crowley. She also had significant support from areas with higher Latino populations. Her success with younger and underrepresented voters was a key factor in Ocasio-Cortez’s victory.
Given the history of dominance by the Democratic Party in New York’s 14th District, it seemed obvious that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez would handily defeat Republican candidate, Anthony Pappas, in the general election. In an interesting twist of fate, a potential third candidate has destroyed any notion of an Ocasio-Cortez landslide. The potential third-party candidate threatening an Ocasio-Cortez landslide is Joe Crowley. Yes, the same Joe Crowley that lost to Ocasio-Cortez in the Democratic primaries may still be running, which would make a potential Republican victory very possible.
All Signs to A Potential Crowley Run
As things stand, Joe Crowley has not formally announced a bid to run against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Anthony Pappas. Having said that, there are too many signs suggesting Crowley will run on the Working Families Party’s ballot. Crowley’s failure to endorse Ocasio-Cortez, Crowley’s refusal to vacate the Working Families Party’s ballot and the Democratic establishment’s reaction to Ocasio-Cortez’s victory, has opened up the notion that Crowley will continue to run for office.
After his detrimental loss, Crowley had stated that he would support an Ocasio-Cortez candidacy. Yet Crowley has not even conceded the election to Ocasio-Cortez, let alone formally endorse her. In a tweet, Ocasio-Cortez said, “He’s (Crowley) stood me up for all 3 scheduled concession calls.” In all formal political races, the losing candidate almost always formally concedes the election. In the 2016 Presidential election, Hillary Clinton conceded to President Trump, despite their history of hateful attacks on each other. Conceding is always the right political play and the only reason Crowley would refuse to concede is if he was planning on continuing to run. If Crowley was really out of the race, why hasn’t he formally conceded yet, despite promising to in the past?
Additionally, Crowley has refused to remove his name from the Working Families Party’s ballot, meaning he would appear on the ballot in November’s election. In the 14th District, Crowley won the primaries of the Working Families Party and secured their endorsement. But following the Democratic Primaries the Working Families Party reached out to Crowley’s campaign about the possibility of removing his name from the ballot to make way for Ocasio-Cortez. According to the New York Times, Bill Lipton, state director of the Working Families Party, immediately reached out to Mr. Crowley’s campaign to request that he vacate the line, but Crowley’s campaign declined, meaning Joe Crowley will remain on the ballot in November. While some arguments may be made that Crowley would have to change his residency in order to remove his name from his ballot, these arguments are invalid. If Crowley really wanted his name removed from the ballot and hand the election to Ocasio-Cortez he would have changed his residency to Virginia where his family already lives and his children go to school. But Crowley has continued to refuse to go through the procedures of vacating the ballot and with his history and ranking in the Democratic Party, Crowley may potentially win the election.
Arguably the most important factor to a possible Crowley run on the Working Families Party ballot is the Democratic establishment’s support of Crowley and rejection of Ocasio-Cortez’s wave of Democratic Socialism. Since Ocasio-Cortez won the Democratic Primaries, the Democratic Establishment has refused to acknowledge her wave of Democratic Socialism. When asked if the Democratic Socialist movement was ascendant in her Party, Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House dismissed the notion saying, “It’s ascendant in that district perhaps.” Pelosi has made it clear she doesn’t believe in the movement of Democratic Socialism in her Party, while Ocasio-Cortez has pushed backed at Pelosi’s dismissal saying, “It’s not just one District.” Since the election of Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic establishment has disregarded the idea that Ocasio-Cortez’s movement is relevant in their party.
While Ocasio-Cortez faced pushback from many moderate Democrats such as Pelosi herself, the establishment has been actively recruiting Crowley to continue to run. On July 17, 2018, former Democratic Senator, Joe Lieberman posted an article on the Wall Street Journal which brought the establishment’s perspective to light. The article urged Democrats in New York’s 14th District to vote for Joe Crowley, noting that Crowley would still be on the ballot. The article slams Ocasio-Cortez for her policy beliefs and argues that her movement of Democratic-Socialism will actually be harmful to the party. Lieberman ends the article by formally endorsing Crowley. Lieberman a highly respected Democrat has a very big influence among the establishment Democrats and his endorsement may hurt the election prospects of Ocasio-Cortez.
It also hasn’t helped that Ocasio-Cortez has embarrassed herself and the Democratic Party ever since her victory, which may turn off voters. Very recently, in PBS’s Firing Line, she was interviewed on her position on capitalism, education, and foreign policy. Republicans and Democrats alike agree on the fact that she looked unprepared throughout the interview. Probably the most famous part of the interview was Ocasio-Cortez’s her remarks to the “occupation” of Palestine, which host Margaret Hoover, asked her to clarify. She unassertively said she was referring to the Israeli settlements in “some of these areas,” which make it difficult for Palestinians to access “Their housing and homes.” Hoover asked for additional clarification, in which Ocasio-Cortez said that she was, “Not the expert on geopolitics on this issue.” This was not the only time she embarrassed herself during the interview. This National Review article summarizes her regrettable interview very well.
The Democratic establishment will continue its refusal to embrace Ocasio-Cortez and has quietly made it clear that they are in support of Joe Crowley. Joe Crowley’s actions (or the lack thereof) have opened up not only the possibility of Crowley winning November’s election but also Republican Anthony Pappas.
A Three-Way Race
A Republican will never win the majority of the votes in a District as liberal as New York’s 14th District. But in light of district’s circumstances within the Democratic Party, Republican Anthony Pappas may not need the majority of votes to win the House seat. In most elections, there are usually no more than two candidates that can realistically win the election (in many House races there is one), but this election is a three-way race. Obviously, there is Ocasio-Cortez who won the nomination of the Democratic Party making her the clear-cut favorite in the District. That being said, Democrat Joe Crowley is also on the ballot, just on the Working Families Party’s ballot and is quietly endorsed by the Democratic establishment. The two will fight and steal votes from each other. Pappas, on the other hand, will receive votes from the District’s Republican stronghold and may steal votes from Democrats, who are fed up with their Party divided over moderate liberalism or democratic socialism. I would still put my money on Ocasio-Cortez to pull through as she has the Democratic nomination, but don’t count out Crowley stealing votes from her, and Pappas potentially squeaking through and winning it all.
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