Joseph Crowley was first elected to a seat in the New York state Assembly in 1986. In 1998, he ran for and won the 7th congressional district after Democratic Rep. Thomas Manton retired. Crowley defeated Republican James Dillon with 66 percent of the vote. He defeated Republican Rosa Birbles Birtley in 2000 with 71 percent of the vote.
Crowley defeated Republican Kevin Brawley in the 2002 general election with 73 percent of the vote.