By Bill Parry
More than 100 supporters joined U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) Sunday at his Jackson Heights campaign headquarters where after a brief rally they went to knock on doors across the borough to discuss the congressman’s record of fighting for equal pay, Medicare for all and immigrant rights.
Crowley, 56, is locked into his first primary challenge in 14 years with Bronx resident Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 28, a first-time candidate who is running a grass-roots campaign devoid of corporate Political Action Committees or lobbyists after she helped coordinate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) presidential campaign in the Bronx.
With the federal primary election scheduled for June 26, Queens elected officials began endorsing Crowley, the chairman of the Queens County Democratic Party, last week.
“Joe Crowley has been a champion for our community. Whether it’s fighting for affordable housing, keeping our streets safe, or working to protect our quality of life, our congressman has been our strongest ally in Washington,” City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) said. “Donald Trump has his friends in Congress working hard every day to undo all the progress that we have made and we need our strongest supporters in Congress working even harder to protect it. I know Joe Crowley is a hard worker and a defender of our values. That’s why I strongly endorse him for re-election.”
Ocasio-Cortez was not impressed by the flurry of Crowley support.
“It is unsurprising that my opponent would receive the endorsements of local elected officials, who rely on his conflicting positions as both incumbent and chairman of the Queens County Democratic Party for their own re-election,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “It is also unsurprising that this system designed on patronage and deference to the chairman has resulted in an endorsement list that is overwhelmingly homogenous and unrepresentative of the people in NY-14. Many local officials are supportive of the Ocasio2018 campaign. My opponent’s triple-dipping behavior, concentrating several positions of power unto himself, has created an environment of fear and intimidation in Queens County about publicly challenging him. That is not Democracy — it’s a racket.”
Crowley, the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, also received the endorsement of Borough President Melinda Katz, City Councilmen Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) and Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) and a dozen other elected officials last week as well as the endorsements of more than two dozen leading labor unions in New York.
“Congressman Crowley has been a stalwart defender of New Yorkers from every stripe — fighting for immigrant rights, worker’s rights, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights,” City Councilman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights) said. “He is on the front line in Washington defending us against the Trump administration’s continuous attacks on our values and I’m proud to endorse and support his efforts to continue that fight in Congress.”
Crowley has also been endorsed by Planned Parenthood Action Fund, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and Giffords, the gun safety organization founded by former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Capt. Mark Kelly. Crowley ALSO represented the borough the state Assembly where he’s fought to increase the minimum wage for working families, expand access to health care, increase the availability of affordable housing, and push for comprehensive immigration reform.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr