What Crowley's 'Titanic' Loss Says About the Party's Future

It may be good news for women
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 27, 2018 8:04 AM CDT
What Crowley's 'Titanic' Loss Says About the Party's Future
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

"A seismic blow." "Titanic upset." Such are the phrases being used to describe Rep. Joe Crowley's Tuesday-night loss in New York. It ushers in the end of a 20-year House career for the man who occupied the No. 4 spot among the Democrats within it. Alexandria Ocasio-Ortez, the 28-year-old woman who bested him, has advocated Medicare for all, an end to ICE, and affordable housing. The New York Times notes the former Bernie Sanders organizer has said she decided to run after her experience fighting against the Dakota Pipeline at Standing Rock. Here's what her win may mean for Nancy Pelosi and House Dems:

  • It had long been assumed that once Pelosi bowed out, it would be a Crowley vs. Steny Hoyer match-up. "Crowley’s defeat could put pressure on other members of the caucus to declare their ambitions now, given that spots rarely open up in House Democratic leadership without an assumed successor," observes Heather Caygle for Politico. She offers this list of potentials: the No. 5 Dem, Rep. Linda Sanchez; Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (NY), Rep. Cheri Bustos (Ill.), and Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (NM).
  • But who might step up isn't the only question Caygle sees. That a 28-year-old former Sanders organizer won serves as "a reminder of the generational demands for change at the top of the party hierarchy" and "renews questions" about the viability of Pelosi and Hoyer, who are both nearing 80.

  • At Slate, Jim Newell reads the tea leaves and agrees the message isn't great for Pelosi. She "may have crossed another potential challenger off of her list, but the bigger picture can't be good for the existing Democratic leadership structure. Crowley, for all his accumulated power, just got taken out on the mantra of generational change," and that could be a potent argument for those Democrats who oppose the current leadership structure.
  • Writing for CNN, Chris Cillizza sees this not as "just about a single House race. This is about the struggle for the future of the Democratic Party." He writes that all the Trump headlines have crowded out another story: the "early stages of a civil war" among Democrats, with "pragmatic establishment types" on one side and "liberals infuriated with the Trump presidency" on the other. The loss shows which side has the firepower right now and suggests Pelosi may face a tough fight to keep the No. 1 slot.
  • At Fox News, Peter Roff sees the schism, too, and sees it as evidence that the "big, blue wave" will turn out to be a dud. "The only way this feels like it's a 'change election' is on the Democratic side, where younger voters and women seemed determined to 'Bernie-fy' the party."
  • Cillizza also delves into the success women have had thus far in the primaries and takes a view beyond 2018. "If you are, say, Elizabeth Warren or Kirsten Gillibrand or Kamala Harris—all of whom are looking at the 2020 Democratic presidential race—the victory of Ocasio-Cortez ... [has] to buoy your hopes.
(More Election 2018 stories.)

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