The rivalry between Reps. Joseph Crowley (N.Y.) and Jan Schakowsky (Ill.) intensified Wednesday, as each expanded their list of supporters in the heated race for House Democratic Caucus vice chairman.
Crowley named five new backers to give him 47 endorsements, while Schakowsky added five Members to her team and grew her overall tally to 43. Connecticut Rep. John Larson is the third candidate in the hunt for the job, and has so far rolled out 17 public supporters.
The trio is vying for the No. 4 leadership spot now held by Rep. Jim Clyburn (S.C.), who is prevented from seeking a third term as vice chairman and is running for Caucus chairman. The job is available in 2006, but could open earlier if current Caucus Chairman Robert Menendez (N.J.) wins appointment to the Senate early next year.
Crowley, who has seen a large portion of his backing from the New York region and moderate Members, added five conservative Blue Dog Democrats to his lineup: Reps. Joe Baca (Calif.) as a whip, and David Scott (Ga.), Mike Michaud (Maine), Mike Ross (Ark.) and Dennis Cardoza (Calif.).
Both Ross and Cardoza are leaders of the Blue Dog group.
Crowley said his newest public backers are one more example of his campaign’s growing momentum and the breadth of his operation. He said Blue Dogs know how to win tough elections, and recognize the hard work he’s done to secure seats for Democrats.
“I am very comfortable with where we are,” Crowley said. “The hard work has paid off and it’s recognized by my colleagues. I continue to say that this will be long race, but the number of undecided [Members] is narrowing. We expect to win this.”
Schakowsky, who is seeing her strongest support from women, liberal Members and colleagues from her home state, padded her operation Wednesday with the endorsements of Reps. Tom Allen (Maine), Julia Carson (Ind.), Pete Stark (Calif.), Gwen Moore (Wis.) and Jim McGovern (Mass.).
All of Schakowsky’s public backers also serve as whips in her campaign.
The Illinois Democrat said her newest supporters are well-respected leaders in the Caucus who “will contribute greatly to my campaign.” More broadly, Schakowsky said her backers understand her goals for the job, which are to reach out to all Members of the caucus to solicit views in leadership decision making and to “work non-stop to help organize our Caucus to win the majority in the House.”
“These Members have chosen to support me because they know I can help Democrats build and maintain political power and a winning message in every district and every state, red or blue,” Schakowsky said.
While Schakowsky and Crowley lay out more of their public support, Larson said he plans to stick with his approach of keeping private the bulk of his endorsements.
Members “like the fact that they aren’t out there publicly and they really respect that I continue to honor that,” Larson said, adding that previous vice chair candidates have kept private their support.
The Connecticut lawmaker said that he is certain he has as much support as his two opponents, adding that he is “content and confident” with his place in the race and vowing to remain in the hunt for “the long haul.”