New York’s Hakeem Jeffries Makes Formal Bid To Lead House Democrats

Jeffries, 52, would be the first Black party leader in Congress and would succeed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Representative Hakeem Jeffries, a Democrat from New York</p></div>
Representative Hakeem Jeffries, a Democrat from New York

New York Representative Hakeem Jeffries on Friday formally put himself in the running to become the House Democratic leader as the party undergoes a historic generational shift.

Jeffries, 52, would be the first Black party leader in Congress and would succeed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who announced Thursday that she was stepping down after almost two decades as the House Democratic leader.

Two other lawmakers are bidding to replace the party’s top leaders, who also are stepping aside to make way for younger lawmakers. Massachusetts Representative Katherine Clark, 59, has put herself in the running to be the No. 2 Democratic leader and California Representative Pete Aguilar, 43, announced he is a candidate for the third-ranking post.

Pelosi in a statement Friday backed all three lawmakers. “A new day is dawning — and I am confident that these new leaders will capably lead our Caucus and the Congress,” she said.

The selection process for Democratic leaders in the next Congress begins Nov. 30. Many Democrats have been rallying behind the three candidates. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, 83, currently the second ranking House Democrat, and Majority Whip James Clyburn, 82, the No. 3 Democrat, both endorsed Jeffries for the top job. Clyburn announced Friday he was vying for the assistant to the leader post.

Hakeem JeffriesPhotographer: Eric Lee/Bloomberg
Hakeem JeffriesPhotographer: Eric Lee/Bloomberg

Jeffries, who long has been regarded as Pelosi’s heir in leadership, said in a letter to fellow House Democrats he would focus on taking back the House majority, “empowering” individual lawmakers and making security for them and their families a priority.

The mention of greater security comes on the heels of the attack last month on Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, at their San Francisco home, and what US Capitol Police say are rising threats on lawmakers.

“When I initially sought the position of Chair of the House Democratic Caucus two terms ago, none of us could have predicted the challenges the American people would confront in the years to come,” Jeffries wrote. “Today, I write to humbly ask for your support for the position of House Democratic Leader as we once again prepare to meet the moment.”

Separately, Democratic Representative Pramila Jayapal has dropped her plans to run for a Democratic leadership post, instead mounting a bid for a second term as chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. She had told Bloomberg News in September that she was considering one of the “top” roles in House leadership.

Her decision comes just weeks after the caucus sent a letter to President Joe Biden asking him to negotiate with Russian President Vladimir Putin for an end to the war in Ukraine, causing an uproar within the party. Some of the signatories distanced themselves from it, saying it was drafted months prior and they no longer supported the stance. The White House has said that there would be no talks with Russia without a decision by Ukraine to pursue them.

Jayapal retracted the letter and said she took responsibility as CPC chair.

--With assistance from .

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