Queens Congressman Becomes Fourth-Ranked Democrat in the House

Joseph Crowley delivers remarks on the second day of the Democratic National Convention.

Joseph Crowley delivers remarks on the second day of the Democratic National Convention. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Queens Congressman Joseph Crowley’s colleagues today elected him chairman of the House Democratic Caucus today—leaving him just three slots below Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who vanquished a challenge from Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan.

The vote allowed Crowley to ascend from his previous post of vice-chairman, and to replace Los Angeles Congressman Xavier Becerra, who was term-limited in the role after four years. The lawmaker, who doubles as boss of the Queens County Democratic Party, is the only New Yorker in the leadership of the House Democratic minority.

“I am humbled by the support of my colleagues and I look forward to serving them as the Chairman of the Democratic Caucus,” Crowley said in a statement, alluding darkly to the election of fellow Queens native Donald Trump to the presidency earlier this month. “We are at a critical juncture, facing unprecedented challenges and attacks on our core principles. We must focus our energies on charting a path for our caucus and the American people.”

In seeking the post, the NYPD officer’s son had touted his blue collar outer borough roots, and argued his experiences could help the delegation reconnect with the working class voters who supported Trump on Election Day. Ryan, who represents Youngstown and Akron, had made a similar plea in his bid to replace Pelosi.

Ryan won almost a third of the caucus’s support in the secret ballot tally, pulling 63 votes to her 134.

Crowley vowed to try to craft a policy message that would allow his largely inert minority conference to recover the power it lost after getting decimated in the elections of 2010 and 2014 and regaining only modest ground this year.

“As chair, I look forward to creating a platform for all of our members to share idea, engage one another, and work collectively to establish a way forward,” he said.

Disclosure: Donald Trump is the father-in-law of Jared Kushner, the publisher of Observer Media.