Gaping Void

As lambert puts it, “Is there a better way to describe existing Democrat leadership than “gaping void”?”

Crowley’s loss leaves gaping void for next generation of Democratic leaders
by Paul Kane, Washington Post
June 27, 2018

Rep. Joseph Crowley did not hide his ambition to be House speaker some day. Now, after his stunning primary loss Tuesday, the next generation of Democratic leaders is a blank slate.

The congressman from Queens set out on a mission over the past year to put himself in place to one day, whenever Democrats won back the majority, grab the gavel and run the House.

“I find myself possibly in the position of — where what I’ve attained so far in terms of leadership — that may happen in the future. It may not,” Crowley told The Washington Post last fall while campaigning for several Democrats around Las Vegas.

On Tuesday, that dream came crashing down, with Crowley becoming the latest in an entire generation of Democratic emerging leaders to fail in their quest to seize the mantle from the 70-something trio of liberals atop the House caucus for more than a decade.

Crowley’s crushing defeat came at the hands of an underfunded challenger on his ideological flank in a party primary. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 28, is a former Bernie Sanders campaign organizer who called for the abolition of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency amid the public outcry over President Trump’s migrant separation policy.

Crowley, 56, despite being in his 20th year in office, was considered a relative newcomer to Democratic leadership circles because the other three have been at the top since early last decade, longer than most House Democrats have even served in Congress.

There’s Nancy Pelosi, 78, the California Democrat who has served four years as speaker and is in her 12th year as minority leader; Steny H. Hoyer, 79, the Maryland Democrat who is in his 16th year serving as Pelosi’s top deputy; and James E. Clyburn, 77, the South Carolina Democrat who has been the No. 3 leader for a dozen years.

With a pivotal midterm election just months away, a growing number of Democratic candidates had been trying to escape the question of whether they support Pelosi as the next House speaker — by instead calling for an entire generational housecleaning of top leaders.

The loss signals the rise of a restive liberal base willing to knock off establishment Democrats, but it also leaves a void in terms of who is next in line for whenever the top three finally move aside.

One younger Democrat, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal caucus politics, noted that upon his arrival several years ago, he was told to watch four players: then-Reps. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), Steve Israel (N.Y.), Xavier Becerra (Calif.) and Crowley.

“Now all are gone,” the Democrat said Tuesday night.

Van Hollen is a senator, Israel retired, Becerra returned to California to serve as attorney general, and Crowley lost Tuesday. Other members of past House leadership included Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who is now a senator, and Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), who went on to become White House chief of staff and is in his second term as mayor of Chicago.

Those other Democrats were Crowley’s peers, essentially elected in the late 1990s and early last decade, but they got on the leadership train at an earlier station than Crowley. One by one, the others decided that it wasn’t worth trying to wait out Pelosi or Hoyer, who have been rivals for decades within the caucus.

In recent years, Crowley rose to the No. 4 leadership post, chairman of the Democratic caucus, in charge of shaping the message and running caucus meetings. He had more visibility and, by dint of being more than 20 years younger this his leadership counterparts, seemed like a fresh face to House Democrats.

1 comment

    • TMC on June 28, 2018 at 6:07 pm

    Please spare me the hand wringing. There are at least a half dozen prominent Democrats who could easily fill Crowley’s shoes. Just off the top of my head, there’s three California reps – Eric Slawell, Linda Sanchez and Adam Schiff. There’s House campaign organization chairman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico, Hakeem Jeffries of New York and Cheri Bustos of Illinois.

    Truthfully, if Schumer maintains his leadership in the Senate, it would be better if the House leadership went to someone from the Northeast

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