Sunday, June 10, 2018

Desperate, Joe Crowley Tries Making His Failing Campaign About Race And Ethnicity


Alexandria Ocasio's race to replace Joe Crowley in her Queens/Bronx district-- Crowley and his family live in Virginia-- could turn out to be the most important primary of 2018. I hope you're following it at Queens Against Crowley. Yesterday they focused on a Ryan Grim report at The Intercept, "Crowley confuses ethnicity and race with power and privilege." Crowley, they pointed out "complained at a recent political event that his Democratic Party primary challenger, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, was focusing her campaign too much on issues of ethnicity or race, remarking, according to the report, that these types of issues were 'unnecessarily divisive.' At many of Crowley’s political events, he loves to brag about his Irish background. Yet, he feels it is fair to deny Ocasio-Cortez any opportunity to speak about her heritage and background, seemingly solely because she is Hispanic."
Having all the power of being the Queens party boss is not enough for Crowley. He wants to use the privilege he has as a White male in power to snuff out his opponent by stoking fears about ethnicity or race to his largely White audiences, as his recent political event was described.

Long before Ocasio-Cortez ever decided to challenge Crowley in a Congressional primary this year, though, Crowley made issues of race central to how Queens was going to be governed. One need not look too far to see how Crowley has used race and White privilege in Queens to further his own ideas about what is fair about who holds elected office.

Before Crowley inherited his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, Richard Brown (Establishment-NY) was first appointed and then reëlected, uninterruptedly, as the District Attorney for Queens County. Now an octogenarian, Brown has said he has no plans for retiring. Though he holds elected office, Brown acts as if being the District Attorney is a job he gets to decide how long he keeps. Like Crowley, Brown acts as if he is entitled to his elected post. The major problem caused to Queens County voters is that Brown is resisting criminal justice reform, as called for by Ocasio-Cortez. Brown wants to keep arresting his way through the opioid crisis, even though Whites are shown to mainly be turning to dangerous synthetic painkillers as lifestyle drugs. Because Brown also resists speedy calls for legalizing marijuana or decriminalizing other crimes that disproportionately affect minority communities, criminal justice in Queens is prosecuted with race-based overtones, notably Broken Windows policing.

Since Brown runs for elected office with the explicit consent of the Queens machine, which is headed by Crowley, Crowley is responsible for how one’s race or ethnicity determines one’s experience when it comes to our justice system. Not only that, but the culture of unaccountability that runs through Queens County politics, which makes Brown believe that his elected office is his until he no longer wants it, is the making of the boss of the Queens machine : Crowley, himself.

Ocasio-Cortez is not making this political primary about ethnicity or race; it is Crowley, who is making it about the privilege and culture of unchallenged power, which he’s gotten so used to. By now, Crowley has been in Congress for 20 years, and he’s been the Queens party boss for 12 years. Crowley’s complaints about divisiveness should rightly fall on deaf ears, because Ocasio-Cortez has been espousing a political campaign that aims to unite New Yorkers on issues that affect everybody, regardless of ethnicity or race, such as the unaffordability crisis in rents and the need to reform our criminal justice system. The only person who is confusing race or ethnicity with power and privilege is Crowley.
Grim reminded his readers that "Crowley is routinely floated as next in line to be the leader of the House Democrats if Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California steps aside or is ousted... To meet with that destiny, however, he has an obstacle to overcome: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez-- a Bronx-born millennial whose scrappy challenge from the left has generated excitement nationally and around the district, which encompasses parts of Queens and the Bronx.
If Crowley positions himself as a photo negative of the president, Ocasio-Cortez is a different medium altogether. A 28-year-old woman and daughter to a Puerto Rican mother and Bronx father, Ocasio-Cortez’s most notable novelty is arguably not her demographic profile, but her policy profile. She calls for the abolition of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Medicare for All, tuition-free public college, a federal jobs guarantee, and criminal justice reform “now.” “It doesn’t take 100 years to do this,” she intones in a viral campaign video [above]. “It takes political courage.”

Crowley, though, when he talked about the campaign, shared his frustration over what he perceives to be an inordinate focus on ethnicity.

His opponent, he said, was trying to make the campaign “about race”-- a strategy he called “unnecessarily divisive” at a time when the party needed to be “fighting Republicans, not other Democrats,” according to two people at the gathering.

“I can’t help that I was born white,” Crowley said. One of those who heard Crowley’s speech, Nick Haby, a Democratic activist who attended the meet-and-greet, agreed to speak on the record, while the second asked for anonymity given Crowley’s power in the Queens political machine.

...Haby said he came to the event with an open mind about Crowley, but he left leaning against him, even though he aligns with the Hillary Clinton wing of the party, whose agenda is most closely mirrored by Crowley’s. (Ocasio-Cortez is a former organizer for Bernie Sanders’s 2016 campaign and has been endorsed by Sanders-affiliated groups Our Revolution and People for Bernie Sanders, as well as the Democratic Socialists of America.)

Most of those at the event were white or white-presenting, Haby said, and he found Crowley’s defense that he couldn’t “help” being born white, coupled with his claims of being “destined” for leadership, odd and off-putting.

The source who originally tipped The Intercept off to Crowley’s alleged remarks in the days following the event was similarly troubled by Crowley’s comments on race. “It just felt really weird and not appropriate,” he explained.

If Crowley’s comments seem odd, it may be because Crowley is relatively inexperienced at campaigning.

Crowley graduated from Queens College in 1985 while his uncle, Walter Crowley, was serving as a city councilor-- a seat he had inherited from then-Queens party boss Tom Manton. Walter Crowley died in 1985, and according to subsequent New York Times reporting, Joe Crowley “set his eyes” on the seat, but was thwarted. “[W]hen Assemblyman Ralph Goldstein died in 1986, Mr. Crowley decided to run in the Democratic primary to succeed him. It was a crowded race with seven candidates. Mr. Crowley, then 24, won that race decisively,” the Times reported.

Crowley fended off a primary challenger in 1988, winning comfortably.

In 1999, when Manton, by then a member of Congress, retired, Crowley got a phone call from him. “On the last legal day to find a replacement, Mr. Manton convened a small meeting and telephoned Joseph Crowley, then an Assemblyman, to tell him he would be on the ballot in November [2000] as a congressional candidate,” the New York Sun reported.

He was effectively appointed to Congress by the party boss. Crowley also inherited Manton’s role as the new “king of Queens,” and has run the district machine since then. He had to defend his seat against primary challengers in 2002 and 2004 and each time won comfortably.

Despite having been in elected office for more than 30 years, Crowley has faced just four primary contests, and won them all comfortably. He has not faced a challenger since 2004.

His seat is now being challenged by Ocasio-Cortez, who’s running with a grassroots army, national attention, and a popular campaign ad that celebrates her independence from the Queens machine-- her freedom to mount a direct challenge to the throne.

The irony that Crowley laments how he “can’t help” being white, while ignoring the political advantages he inherited, is not lost on Ocasio-Cortez. “The congressman could have helped that he accepted inheritance of his seat from a multigenerational political dynasty without a true primary-- a process by which people of color are historically locked out of representation. The congressman could help that he voted to establish ICE. The congressman can help the fact that he accepts money from developers that are displacing our communities and the folks criminalizing our backyards,” she told The Intercept.

“Additionally, why is it that the congressman can proudly discuss his Irish heritage on the campaign trail, but I am somehow barred from mentioning my Puerto Rican family?”

...Haby said that while he left the event disinclined to vote for Crowley, the next day’s news solidified his decision: Crowley endorsed New York state Sen. Jose Peralta for another term. Peralta had been a member of the Independent Democratic Conference — a group of Democrats who caucused with Republicans to deny Democrats a majority in the chamber. Peralta later rejoined the caucus, and Crowley has said he endorsed Peralta in response to his change of heart.

Haby is a board member of the Lesbian & Gay Democratic Club of Queens and a member of Stonewall Democrats. He’s also the chair of the marketing and social media committee for the Powhatan and Pocahontas Regular Democratic Club.

The LGDCQ later endorsed Crowley, though Ocasio-Cortez did not compete for their backing. She assumed that, as part of the Queens political establishment, the club would never endorse anyone but Crowley, and her campaign decided to invest its limited resources into competing for votes it felt were more winnable. She says that decision was made early on. “At my first attempt to meet a local Dem club, they heard I was coming and rushed to endorse Crowley before I arrived. It’s never been our strategy to court a system led by Crowley,” she said.

Goal ThermometerHaby said he was disappointed by her decision not to reach out to his club, but accurately guessed at her rationale.

Ocasio-Cortez now says she has rethought that approach after realizing that Crowley’s support was softer than it initially appeared. The LGDCQ’s endorsement is a case in point. “I do think I perhaps overstated how strong this machine was in its loyalty to Crowley,” she said. “When I started, everyone told me it was a done deal. As I’ve gone further, I’ve seen that his support isn’t as strong as people say it is.”
Please consider helping Alexandria replace Crowley, a notoriously corrupt Democrat beholden to Wall Street, by clicking on the thermometer above. It's important. You shouldn't want to see this creep become Speaker; he's far worse than Pelosi or even Hoyer. And folks in Queens and The Bronx deserve better.

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At 9:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While "democrats" push progressives out of the running, the GOP is quietly drinking their milkshake. I don't see the "democrats" winning control of the House this fall, for they have nothing to offer the voters.

At 3:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ocasio-Cortez is a good candidate with a chance to win in a low turnout primary. Crowley has been an absentee congressman and doesn't represent the working people in his district. He represents his donors from Wall Street and the Real Estate industry. If you want to implement Bernie's policies in congress and end the pay for play corruption in Washington support Ocasio-Cortez.

At 5:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Crowley is beaten, there are 10 more in line behind him that are just as bad or worse.

you're at an arcade playing whack-a-mole. How about you just leave the arcade and do something that will actually help? vote green and help make the democraps just go the fuck away.


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