Hakeem Jeffries, 48, (D-NY) has defeated Barbara Lee, 72 (D-CA) to become Democratic Caucus chair for the incoming House to be seated in January. Lee, who bypassed calls to run against Nancy Pelosi as Speaker so she could run this race, for which she announced in June, was bested by rising star Jeffries, who got into this race only recently. It’s the #5 leadership post in the House.
In other news, minutes ago Nancy Pelosi secured an agreement with the Problem Solvers Caucus, led by NJ’s Rep. Josh Gottheimer, which has threatened to withhold votes for her Speaker bid unless she agreed to rules changes they seek.
Caucus chair vote was 123-113. This contest for message leadership pitted two members of the Congressional Black Caucus against each other, a generational divide in the Caucus, and also maybe a battle between east and west coasts. The leadership of the Caucus opened up after Caucus leader Joe Crowley, also of New York, was beaten in a primary by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Jeffries has been in Congress only 6 years but is frequently mentioned as future Speaker material. As co-chair of the Caucus’ communications arm, he was instrumental in crafting messaging for candidates in the November midterms. Lee, a 20-year House incumbent, is best known for casting the sole vote against authorizing military force after 9/11.
Nancy Pelosi, who has been deal-making for weeks, is the likely incoming Speaker. She is 78, and 2nd in the presidential line of succession. Her number two and three in her leadership team are 79 and 78 years old – Steny Hoyer who would be Majority Leader and James Clyburn, Majority Whip. With nobody emerging to challenge Pelosi, despite opposition to her leadership from inside the Dem Caucus, she is likely to be the Democrats’ Speaker nominee in today’s vote. The full House votes for Speaker in January, and Pelosi’s path may still have obstacles.