Crowley has long been a close confidant and loyal lieutenant of Pelosi‘s. Twenty years younger, he is well-liked and was considered a bridge to the younger members and an obvious successor for her allies.
Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, who challenged Pelosi for leader in 2016 said “everybody is re-evaluating” in light of Crowley’s loss.
Pelosi has led the Democrats since she was elected to the top slot in 2002, a tenure that has included four years as the first woman to wield the gavel as Speaker of the House. Her number-two for that entire time has been Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and there hasn’t been a contested race for any of the top four leadership slots since 2006.
Now that stability is being severely threatened.
Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., said on Thursday that she’s looking to run for Crowley’s post.
“I’ve been talking to members and getting positive feedback, but I think what’s important right now is to listen and see if I can make a contribution to the Democratic caucus as chair,” she told NBC News. Another Californian, Rep. Linda Sanchez, is also interested.
The jockeying for the fourth spot is also having reverberations at the top, where Pelosi’s grip is likely to be challenged and where the internal fight over leadership closely mirrors the broader fight Democrats are having about the soul and direction of the party.
For some members, Crowley’s loss to a young, progressive candidate is proof that voters are looking for new, fresh voices to lead the party. The remaining top three leaders — Pelosi, Hoyer and Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C. — are all in their 70s.
“It underscores the idea, even within the caucus, that our best advantage that we have is to have some new faces and new names in leadership. That is what our base of support is demanding,” Ryan said.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity,” said Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., said. “We need a great leader for the party and someone who people respect who will encourage new talent to run and (who will) rise up and build a bench and will support Democrats throughout the country and will really have a vision for the future rather than be focused on the past.”