Joe Crowley inches closer to a long-coveted leadership spot

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Joe Crowley. (Azi Paybarah, via flickr)
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Rep. Joe Crowley got some good news in his bid to join the House leadership yesterday, when one of his rivals for the caucus vice chairmanship, Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado, dropped out of the race and endorsed Crowley's bid.

That sets up a two-person race between Crowley and California congresswoman Barbara Lee, in the Democrats' only contested leadership race, after Nancy Pelosi decided to run for another term as minority leader.

Crowley, an ambitious congressman who also chairs the Queens County organization, has been stuck in place in Washington, after losing a race for the same vice chairman position in 2006.

His efforts to ascend weren't exactly helped by the rift between Pelosi and the House's number two Democrat, Steny Hoyer, who Crowley backed in their leadership struggle 10 years ago.

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A prolific fund-raiser and declared moderate, Crowley was a logical choice to head the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee after the 2010 cycle, but Pelosi tapped Long Island congressman Steve Israel instead. She re-appointed Israel earlier this week, when she announced her decision to stay on as leader.

Polis is considered a close ally of Pelosi, and his endorsement might signal a thaw in Crowley's frozen ambitions.

But Lee, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus who could attract some support from the progressive wing of the party, insisted she's keeping it close.

“I consider Congressmen Crowley a friend and know that he has been running for years, but everyday I gain new support," Lee told The Hill.