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Blue Dog Coalition Backs Crowley

The Blue Dog Coalition, a bloc of moderate and conservative House Democrats, announced on Wednesday that it is endorsing fellow moderate Rep. Joe Crowley (N.Y.) for the position of Democratic Caucus vice chairman.

The 34-member group voted to support the New York Democrat over two other candidates, Reps. John Larson (Conn.) and Jan Schakowsky (Ill.). The endorsement is not a surprise given that Crowley is viewed as the most centrist of the three Democrats vying for the post.

Larson, for his part, has four public Blue Dog member endorsements: Reps. Gene Taylor (Miss.), Tim Holden (Pa.), Lincoln Davis (Tenn.) and Marion Berry (Ark.). Schakowsky, the candidate most closely identified with the party’s progressive wing, has yet to claim any public Blue Dog endorsements.

Crowley said Wednesday that the endorsement “adds tremendous weight to our campaign and organization and what we are trying to accomplish.” Crowley added that to win the support of the group shows that the “most vulnerable” who are subject to tough re-elections believe he is the best candidate to help lead the Caucus.

Crowley, Schakowsky and Larson are competing in a three-way race for the No. 4 Democratic leadership post, which is currently held by Rep. James Clyburn (S.C.). Clyburn is prevented by a term-limit rule from seeking a third term as vice chairman, and instead is seeking the top Caucus slot, which is currently held by Rep. Bob Menendez (N.J.).

Under the Blue Dog bylaws, two-thirds of the members must vote in favor if the group is to officially endorse a position. The group did not release a vote count in this case but said that the majority threshold to endorse Crowley was met. In that case, at least 23 members had to cast ballots for the New Yorker.

The Blue Dogs have only made an endorsement one other time in a leadership election. The group gave its backing in 2002 to Menendez in his successful campaign against Rep. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.) for Caucus chairman.

Menendez won the job by one vote.

“Clearly, this says that two-thirds of them are siding with me,” Crowley said. “That’s 23 or 24 people. That’s a substantial number within our Caucus saying they are with me.”