Rep. Joe Crowley says stunning loss to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez "is on me"

Rep. Joe Crowley, D-New York, says that he alone is to blame for his stunning loss at the hands of 28-year-old challenger Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York's 14th congressional district last month, but warns fellow Democrats that the party needs to work hard to win control of the House and "recognize" the country again. 

"This loss is on me. I had wonderful volunteers, hundreds of them, and a great campaign effort, and just sometimes you come up short," Crowley told "Face the Nation" on Sunday. "The loss, I have to take the responsibility for that. I did not, you know, do as I preach. I talk about all politics being local, I didn't remind folks of my accomplishments. I didn't talk about what I had done to help people in my district."

Crowley's defeat to Ocasio-Cortez, a political newcomer, shocked the world of Democratic politics, with Ocasio-Cortez outflanking Crowley to the left. Crowley, who has held the seat since 1999, had risen to become the fourth-highest leadership position in the House, and was considered a potential successor to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. 

Crowley, however, told "Face the Nation" that there were a "number of factors" that went into his loss. 

"I think the year of the woman, that's a fact that's playing into this and I like that for November. I think that's really good for us as a party," explained Crowley. 

Crowley cited low voter turnout and the timing of the primary itself as also hindering his ability to win. "Not being the normal September, back into June, it really was an isolated primary in many respects," said Crowley. 

He added, "I do think that the turnout was low. I think it's more reflective again of some of the arcane nature of New York state election law itself that may be contributing to this factor."

Ocasio-Cortez, a self-described democratic socialist, has since sparred with Crowley over Twitter, claiming the congressman had neglected to call and concede the race. "Alexandria, the race is over and Democrats need to come together. I've made my support for you clear and the fact that I'm not running," Crowley responded

Crowley personally congratulated Ocasio-Cortez on "Face the Nation," saying that she ran an effective campaign and "deserves this win."

But looking ahead to 2018, Crowley says that Democrats need to "stay away from character assassination." 

"I think what we need to really steer away from is character assassination. And I think it's what we really need to do is take that energy that's been focused in terms of internal bouts and focus that on the Republicans and win seats that Republicans hold today if we really want to make a difference," said Crowley.

  • Emily Tillett

    Emily Tillett is a politics reporter and video editor for CBS News Digital