Canadians’ understanding of United States politics and public policy is being shaped by a former Cedar Rapidian.
When CTV News Channel, Canada’s 24-hour all-news network, presents its weekly “Angle on America” segment, it turns to Jefferson High School graduate Cory Crowley for insight. Over the past year, as Canadians’ interest in American politics and the presidential election, in particular, grew, Crowley, 34, was called on three and four times a week.
A Republican campaign consultant and government relations consultant, Crowley often is paired with a Democrat or an academic for discussions of policy and developments in various campaigns.
Although he describes the CTV as “not as rowdy as Fox and CNN,” Crowley has proved he can turn a phrase.
Recently, while discussing Newt Gingrich downplaying President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign promise to “drain the swamp,” Crowley described the former U.S. House speaker as a “swamp monster” because he’s the “biggest benefactor” of the swamp.”
“It’s interesting because once I say something, it’s out there,” even when he’s wrong, Crowley said. “I, of course, didn’t think Donald Trump was going to win, and I’m on the record saying that for six months in a row,” he said.
In non-election years, “Angle on America” focuses on “whatever is the hot news out of the United States that week,” Crowley said. “They were very interested in the (Keystone) pipeline because that affected Canada.”
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Because he follows politics and policy debates, fielding CTV questions is relatively easy, Crowley said.
“And after having worked for (U.S. Sen. Chuck) Grassley for 10 years, I have a pretty good grasp of what will pass.”
He doesn’t work for Grassley any longer but still gets involved in campaigns, including Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s run for the GOP presidential nomination.
He tracks legislation for clients in the tech and finance industries, offering advice on legislative strategies and messaging. He also teams up with his sister, Stephanie, on Iowa legislative issues and campaigns.
“Fortunately, politics is not the way I make my whole living, so I can be a little choosy and only get involved when I want to, when there is a candidate I really like or believe in,” Crowley said. “I don’t have to jump from campaign to campaign to pay the bills.”
It hasn’t always been that way. To make ends meet when he was a congressional staffer, he and a friend started a business designing and selling bow ties.
“I was so poor, and bow ties never go on sale, so I figured out how to make my own,” he said. His business partner took time off after having two children, but they plan to relaunch their company, James and Jene, in the spring.
In addition to CTV, Crowley also appears on CBC — the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and a Canadian radio station from time to time.
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Crowley didn’t foresee himself as a media analyst. The first few times he was on CTV, he was substituting for another former Cedar Rapids resident, Benny Johnson, now with IJR, the Independent Journal Review.
“I didn’t plan on doing it,” Crowley said, “and when I went in to fill in for someone else, I didn’t plan on them calling me for four-and-a-half years.”
Crowley said his parents, Jerry Crowley and Eileen Crowley, both of Cedar Rapids, were not active politically. But when he showed an interest, his grandparents introduced him to Jim Dvorsky, a former Linn County GOP chairman. He was a volunteer on George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign.
After graduating from high school, he attended Kirkwood Community College and went to work for Grassley in Washington before coming back to make an unsuccessful run for the Iowa Legislature. Crowley went back to Washington to work as a congressional staffer and then set up Cory Crowley & Co.