Rep. Hakeem Jeffries is launching a bid to become House Democratic Caucus chair, a move his cheerleaders hope will position him to become the first black speaker one day should he win.
Multiple critics of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi have been trying to get the Democrat from Brooklyn to challenge her for the job. Jeffries, while only 48 and just elected to his fourth term, is well liked in the Democratic caucus and is seen as a rising star.
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But Jeffries’ declaration for the No. 4 position leaves Pelosi critics without a leader they believe they can win with. The group has been trying to find someone willing to challenge Pelosi but has thus far been unsuccessful.
Jeffries’ move is sure to shake up the caucus chair race. Current vice caucus chair Linda Sánchez is also trying to move up the ladder to claim the position. And Rep. Barbara Lee, another Congressional Black Caucus member, has also been whipping for the post, sending care packages of candy to offices in her bid to woo lawmakers and candidates.
In his “dear colleagues” letter, Jeffries laid out his vision for the position, pointing specifically to President Donald Trump’s penchant for spinning facts to say that House Democrats must have a clear message in countering him. The position oversees communications for the caucus.
“There is an unconventional President in the Oval Office who dominates the news cycle with his outrageous claims, name-calling and falsehoods,” Jeffries wrote. “Undoubtedly, he will try to use the House Democratic Caucus as a foil to explain his shortcomings and inability to lead.”
He added: “Message discipline helped carry us into the majority. To stay in charge, we must act aggressively on a bold legislative agenda and consistently message to the American people what we are doing to improve their quality of life.”