New York Rep. Joseph Crowley’s primary loss on Tuesday sent shock waves through the political system. But the House Democratic Caucus chairman’s defeat was far from the first time a congressional leader’s career has been abruptly halted by the voters.
It was just four years ago Virginia Republicans elevated a little-known economics professor named Dave Brat over Eric Cantor, the House majority leader. Like Crowley, Cantor was viewed as a strong contender to some day be speaker. These two men do represent something of a new trend, though: leaders losing primaries. The most recent examples of leaders losing has typically happened in the general election.
Pelosi Praises Crowley and His Concession Following Primary Defeat
Here’s a breakdown of the leaders who have seen the voters halt their leadership careers in the legislative branch. Of note: Despite dire predictions of leadership vacuums overtaking the party suffering the loss, someone always takes the defeated’s place.
Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y.
- First Elected: 1998 general election
- Highest Leadership Position: House Democratic Caucus Chairman
- Electoral Loss: Primary, June 26, 2018, to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
- Replaced in Leadership Ranks by: ?
Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va.
Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D.
Rep. Thomas S. Foley, D-Wash.
Rep. John Brademas, D-Ind.
Correction 4:45 p.m. | An earlier version of this story misstated the first name of Rep. John Brademas.