Tags: 2018 Midterm Elections | democrats | joe crowley | new york city | party boss

After Crowley Defeat, NYC Dems Lament 'End of an Era'

After Crowley Defeat, NYC Dems Lament 'End of an Era'
Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-Mass. (Tom Williams/AP)

By    |   Thursday, 28 June 2018 09:57 PM

The primary defeat Tuesday of Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-Mass. — the last powerful party boss in a city once defined by them — has upended the political order in New York City.

"It's the end of an era," Councilman Daniel Dromm of Queens, the chairman of the finance committee, an influential position he won after aligning himself more closely with Crowley, told The New York Times.

Even where powerful powerful Democratic organizations still exist in big cities, they have become weaker, the Times reported.

"Political machines have been on the decline almost everywhere for decades, and that process has accelerated," Larry Sabato, the director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, told the Times.

Those who get involved in politics now are more likely to view it as a cause rather than a means to a patronage job or a payoff, he added. 

"Crowley is a perfect example," Sabato told the Times. "He grew up in another time and another way of doing business."

Crowley was chairman of the Queens County Democratic Party in the last of New York City's party-boss strongholds — a neighborhood that has transformed from a community synonymous with the cranky conservatism of Archie Bunker to the home of some of the nation's most diverse neighborhoods, and an increasingly progressive Democratic base, the Times noted.

According to the Times, cracks in the party machine had been emerging in recent years. For example, Crowley could not deliver his preferred candidate for Council speaker in 2013, outmaneuvered by the newly elected liberal Democrat Bill de Blasio. 

And three years later, the county-backed incumbent, Assemblywoman Margaret Markey, lost a Democratic primary to a young insurgent, while the county organization could not save Crowley's cousin, Elizabeth Crowley, from losing to a more conservative Democrat.

"There is a very significant losing streak here," Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, a Democrat who bucked the party leadership with his own run in 2009 and whose district voted heavily in favor of Crowley's victor in the Tuesday primary, progressive Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, told the Times.

"If it couldn't mobilize for the chairman of the Democratic Party, who is it going to mobilize for," Van Bramer said of the Queens county machine.

Some chalked up Crowley's loss to the diverse demographics of Queens, where a quarter of residents are white, down from about 50 percent in 1990, the Times reported.

Others pointed to how Ocasio-Cortez outperformed Crowley in neighborhoods where younger, more liberal, white Democrats have replaced older, more centrist ones.

"There is an awakened giant," Jessica Ramos, a former City Hall aide who is challenging incumbent state Sen. Jose Peralta in Jackson Heights, Queens, in the September primary, told the Times. "The Democratic Party is changing."

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The last powerful party boss in a city once defined by them, Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-Mass., lost Tuesday's primary, ushering "an end of an era" and upending the New York City political order, The New York Times reported.
democrats, joe crowley, new york city, party boss
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2018-57-28
Thursday, 28 June 2018 09:57 PM
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