Washington Post Style reporter Jason Horowitz is a New York City native. He also spent several years writing for the New York Observer. He filed a guest post for The Fix on Rep. Joe Crowley’s (D) reaction to Rep. Bob Turner’s (R) win in New York’s 9th district on Tuesday.
The humiliating defeat of his hand-picked candidate in the Democratic 9th district did not prevent Rep. Joe Crowley, the boss of the Queens Democratic machine, from claiming victory on Wednesday afternoon.
Crowley had gamely walked out of the House chamber to answer the questions of a small scrum of Congressional reporters in the Speaker’s Lobby. As he approached, he joked that he was following a chummy reporter’s directions to take questions. Someone in the media pack suggested that perhaps other bad advice included hand-picking David Weprin, the Democrat beaten by Turner.
“No one hand picks anyone,” Crowley cracked wise. The reporters got the joke and laughed.
They then asked him about the national implications of the loss of the 9th congressional district, which had sent liberal Rep. Anthony Weiner, and Sen. Chuck Schumer before him, to Congress. They wanted to know if this reflected poorly on President Obama, on Congress, on the economy.
And how did the astonishing loss reflect on boss Crowley, or was there no Queens machine? “I never said there wasn’t a Queens machine,” he said. “This is the Queens machine!” someone in the scrum exclaimed.
Crowley explained that Weprin was ethnically, religiously and demographically a “perfect fit for this district and I’m sad he’s not coming here.”
“Let’s talk about yesterday,” he said, when asked if he had failed where his legendary predecessor, former Rep. Tom Manton, had succeeded. “We won Queens County fifty-two to fourty-eight. Did you get that part? I know Queens. That’s what I’m the leader of. I don’t pretend to know Brooklyn. I still get lost in Brooklyn.” Crowley added that the party had won some state assembly races.
Crowley received no help in the Congressional race from another legend of city politics, E d Koc h, who endorsed Turner early and dictated the terms of the debate.
He said that Koch’s endorsement “certainly played a role” and put on a Marlon Brando in “The Godfather” voice to respond to a question about whether things would have gone differently if Koch had come to him before the election. Then he added crisply: “Well he didn’t.”
What about Koch?
“Do I think Ed Koch is a good Democrat?” Crowley said, pensively. “How do you describe a good Democrat?”
Then he answered his own question. “Ed Koch has had a long and illustrious career that was largely responsible because of the work of the Democratic Party in New York City and the surrounding neighborhoods and he just had a bridge named after him so I guess he must have done some great things.”
Wisconsin Republican Rep.Paul Ryan strolled by with white iPod earphones dangling from his ears. “I bet I know what you’re talking about,” he said with a smile as he continued walking.
Everyone, including Crowley, laughed.