Two Foes vs. One Pro
Incumbent Congressman Crowley meets little opposition in the primary.
By AZI PAYBARAH
Congressman Joe Crowley has quickly made the transition from a Queens College graduate with a political science degree to one of the state’s highest-ranking members of the House of Representatives.
The district stretches from the multi-ethnic crossroads below the No. 7 train line in Jackson Heights, across northern Boulevard into the Bronx, and ends near the Westchester border.
Earlier this year, Crowley’s campaign operation and near million-dollar war chest helped ward off one Hispanic Councilman’s bid for the seat. Crowley now faces three less-financed Democrats from the Bronx in the Sept. 14 race.
Since his last re-election, Crowley and his congressional colleagues cast votes on some of the most controversial issues in modern politics, namely the authorization for war in Iraq and expanding surveillance opportunities for law enforcement agencies under the U.S. Patriot Act.
For most members of Congress, those votes and the ongoing demographic shifts across the country helped fuel the campaigns of numerous challengers.
That is not exactly the case for one of Crowley’s challengers.
In a Sept. 3 roundtable with the two candidates – one could not be contacted – challenger Curtis Brooks said, “To tell you the truth, his record as far as the war, taxes and drugs, it doesn’t’ mean anything…I’m concern with the representation of my people.”
Brooks accused Crowley of “not being accessible.” Brooks then admitted to not only living outside of Crowley’s district, but to making no effort to communicate with Crowley or his own Congressman, Jose Serrano.
“I was slated to run against Serrano,” admitted Brooks, who charged, “He doesn’t’ represent African Americans or black people in his district.” Brooks said it was only a matter of ethnic pragmatism that he was running against Crowley, and not Serrano. “He has 75 percent whites in his district, I can’t do that.”
Another Crowley opponent, Aniello “Neil” Grimaldi, sought to capitalize on Crowley’s support for the Iraq war by saying, “I propose we get out of Iraq as soon as possible…and create the United States Department of Peace.”
Crowley said, “Regardless of how we got there...we can’t just leave…I would like to see an exit strategy by this administration and the future administration, the [John] Kerry administration. I haven’t seen it from the Bush administration, they haven’t showed any time line [for leaving].”
Grimaldi then accused Crowley of being in the pocket of big businesses and pharmaceutical companies.
Connecting his thumb and pointer finger, Crowley responded, “I received zero from the pharmaceutical industry. I’m like enemy number one to them. I support drug re-importation [from Canada].”
“I apologize, I thought you voted for it,” said Grimaldi.