By Jim EllisJuly 16, 2018 — As has been extensively covered in the national media, Democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez upset 10-term Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens) in the June 26 New York federal primary, but the winner is now claiming the defeated congressman may still oppose her in the general election.
As we detailed in our own report about the 14th Congressional District result, Rep. Crowley could still force a general election campaign because he became the Working Families Party nominee on the same night that he was losing the Democratic Party nomination. Under New York election law, candidates may simultaneously appear on the ballot as the nominee of more than one party.
The congressman, however, still maintains that he is not running but simultaneously has refused to resign from the WFP line — even when the party leadership asked him to do so.
Ocasio-Cortez is accusing the congressman of launching a minor party general election effort because he has, according to her, refused to follow through on scheduled calls to discuss his support for her despite his public comments to the contrary. Crowley said, via Twitter, that it is Ocasio-Cortez’s people who have “not followed through,” with scheduling the appointments.
Swept up in the national media coverage that has engulfed her since denying Rep. Crowley re-nomination, Ocasio-Cortez is already moving onto the national stage and still challenging the party establishment. She has already dispersed staff members to Delaware to help US Senate candidate Kerri Harris who is challenging Sen. Tom Carper in the Sept. 6 Democratic primary. She is doing the same for Bernie Sanders activist Brent Welder, one of the far left candidates hoping for the chance to unseat GOP Rep. Kevin Yoder in Kansas.
Rep. Crowley states that he is not seeking re-election as the Working Families Party candidate but cannot come off the ballot because he does not meet any of the limited requirements to do so under New York law. According to Crowley’s explanation, he is not moving out of New York, not dead, nor convicted of any crime. He furthermore stated he would not commit election fraud by becoming the nominee for another office, one in which he has no intent of obtaining nor serving. He says the aforementioned are the only conditions in which a candidate can remove his name from the ballot.
For their part, the Working Families Party leadership, in the person of state director Bill Lipton, said in several media interviews that they asked Rep. Crowley to resign from the ballot so the WFP can support Ocasio-Cortez. Lipton said Rep. Crowley’s campaign representatives refused to do so. He says the party leadership will still work for Ocasio-Cortez’s election even if Crowley is their standard bearer in November.
Most importantly, the option for Crowley to actively jump-start a campaign does exist. And, analyzing his victory chances through the available numbers is an interesting exercise. Though Ocasio-Cortez won the primary election, only 27,658 people voted, meaning a percentage turnout of only 11.4 percent of the entire 14th District Democratic Party universe (235,745 individuals). This means that Ocasio-Cortez received only 15,897 votes. To put her total in perspective, Rep. Crowley’s 2016 general election total was 147,587, or almost 10 times the number of people who helped deny him re-nomination.
Considering the size of his regular general election voting base, it is not inconceivable for Crowley to develop a winning general election scenario even when representing a party that has a registration total of just 1,138 members in the Queens-Bronx congressional district.
Though there is no discernible effort to suggest that the congressman is mounting a campaign, he does have an available vehicle should he decide at any time that Ocasio-Cortez has simply strayed too far from traditional Democratic Party ideals and the district faithful is calling upon him to replace her.