3:46 pm Sep. 14, 2011
"We won Queens County 52-48. I had a good day yesterday in Queens."
That's what Representative Joe Crowley, the Queens County Democratic boss who selected David Weprin to run for the Anthony Weiner seat, said to Politico reporter Jake Sherman about yesterday's special election in New York's Ninth Congressional district.
Maybe he was kidding. (Hopefully he was, at least a little?) Because of course the bottom line is that his candidate ran in a district that included Brooklyn, and lost badly, in a race that the whole country was watching.
There will be more awkwardness to come: The loss, widely interpreted as a rebuke of the Obama administration, occurred exactly one week before the president is scheduled to come to town for a major fund-raiser.
But while there is plenty of embarrassment for in the election result for Crowley—an upward-aspiring member of the House Democratic leadership who chairs the DCCC finance committee—it's not exactly clear what that means, in terms of actual consequences.
He's a Big Loser on the night, by the standards used to determine losers in post-election analysis. But what does that mean for Crowley, in practical terms?
I asked around, and there were plenty of local Democrats willing to grouse about Crowley on background. But the only people I spoke to who attempted to answer that question with any degree of specificity were Crowley allies. And their answer to my question about what the fallout might be for Crowley of overseeing this conspicuous loss is: There is none.
"Everyone needs to relax," said State Senator Michael Gianaris of Astoria. "I know the political parlor game requires an over-reaction about the effects of a special election like this, but the fact remains Queens is one of the strongest and most unified Democratic organizations in the nation. Nothing that happened last night changes that. Joe Crowley is a strong leader who will continue leading the Democratic party to victories in the future."
Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf (not a Crowley ally, particularly) said the problem for Democrats and the Queens County Organization is very real, but not for Crowley in particular. Sheinkopf also said Crowley doesn't run the county organization on a day-to-day basis, and that anyway, the media tends to have an inflated view of what a county organization is actually capable of delivering on Election Day.
"He's a good fund-raiser, and is liked by his colleagues," Sheinkopf said. "And everybody slips on banana peels."
UPDATE: A source explains that Crowley's quote about the "good day yesterday in Queens" was a reference to the two Assembly contests Democrats won.