Crowley Will Not Challenge Pelosi, Announces Bid for Caucus Chair

New York Democrat had declined to rule out bid for minority leader just hours earlier

New York Rep. Joseph Crowley is bidding for the House Democratic caucus chairmanship. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

New York Democratic Rep. Joseph Crowley on Thursday announced that he would run for Democratic Caucus chairman, just hours after he declined to rule out challenging Nancy Pelosi for the House minority leader position.

Crowley, 54, is the current vice chairman of the caucus and is expected to run unopposed for chairman. If elected, he would succeed Rep. Xavier Becerra of California.

“I have made it a priority to listen to, and to really hear, our members and their thoughts and concerns,” Crowley said in a letter to colleagues announcing his run. “What’s clear is that no single individual will be able to lead us back into the majority. What we need is a truly collaborative effort.”

“I am committed to creating an inclusive environment within our caucus, which means broadening beyond the usual messengers and building our strategies and our goals from the ground up,” he added. 

House Democratic leadership elections are set to take place Nov. 30.

[Tim Ryan to Challenge Pelosi for Minority Leader]

Crowley’s announcement that he would run for caucus chairman came as Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan announced he would run for minority leader against Pelosi. Just a few hours before, Crowley had evaded questions about whether he too would challenge Pelosi.

“I’m continuing to listen to my colleagues,” Crowley told reporters midday Thursday. “They’ve been talking to me, and I think it’s a responsibility of the chairman of the caucus and the vice chair of the caucus to give our colleagues every opportunity to communicate to us what they’re feeling and what their dreams and aspirations are of our caucus.”

Asked if he was confirming that members had approached him and asked him to run, Crowley demurred. 

“What I’ve said is that my colleagues continue to express themselves in the caucus, and that’s the responsibility of the chair and the vice chair to listen to our colleagues and hear them out,” he said.

Although he did not characterize the substance of his conversations with other Democratic members, Crowley said the talks about the future direction of the caucus are being driven by aftershocks from last week’s election. 

“We’ve just come through a very difficult election and a cycle that there were high expectations for, and they weren’t met,” he said. 

It’s unclear how much support Crowley could have garnered if he did run against Pelosi, who has broad backing from her caucus. Pelosi said in a letter Wednesday, formally announcing her re-election bid, that she has locked up two-thirds of the caucus votes, which, if true, is more than enough to win. 

Asked if Democrats are scared to run against Pelosi, Crowley said, “We all get elected individually. We get sent here by constituents. We’re here for them and no one else.”

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