Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) dealt a seismic blow to the House Democratic Caucus on Tuesday night after defeating him on the primary election, ending the 20 year House reign for the veteran speaker. The defeat which was orchestrated by a twenty-eight-year-old former Bernie Sanders organizer recast the doubts concerning the future of high ranking Democratic officials, comprising Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
While the loss for Crowley eliminated a likely opponent to Pelosi for the position of the speaker in the House if Democrats emerge victoriously, it also played as a notice of the generational need for change in the party leadership. There are a significant number of Democrats candidates who have vowed this year they will not support the seventy-eight-year-old speaker in his reelection bid.
It is a big understatement to assume that the loss of Crowley to Alexandria Ocasio-Ortez was not forthcoming. The failure led to immediate comparisons to the House Majority back then, Eric Cantor who lost to a no-name rival in a 2014 Republican election. Similar to Cantor, Crowley had his weaknesses. Nonetheless, it was hard for anyone to fathom that either of them could lose, and thus they ware unexpectedly defeated in their moment of rest. In fact, some Democrats that were reached after the Tuesday night New York election could not understand how to explain the outcome of the vote.
In Democratic leadership, Crowley is number four and thus had made no secret of his intention to run for the top position. While not only he felt superior to Pelosi other members within the party thought that he was the best positioned to take the mantle once Pelosi (D-Calif.) vacated it.
The defeat of the person that no one anticipated to lose turns the leadership of the party race on its head. The expectation in caucus was that it would be between House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Crowley. The win of Ocasio-Cortez will also have significant implications in Queens, where Crowley has been reigning as Democrats chair leader.
Moreover, the result is sure to send fear through the moderate section of the Democrats especially those that have been sleeping presuming that it is impossible to defeat an incumbent. The loss of Crowley could push other party members to declare their ambitions given that the vacancy does not appear without an expected heir. For example, Rep. Linda Sanchez who is number five behind Crowley and is the vice chairwoman of the caucus could announce her intents to go for House Democratic chair which could also trigger other young, ambitious members to run for top positions. Others are also trying to determine the possible reasons and signs that could have led to the defeat of Crowley to help them avoid a similar fate.