Democrats rally behind New York Jeffries to succeed Pelosi as House leader

(Bloomberg) — House Democrats quickly rallied behind Brooklyn native Hakeem Jeffries as their next leader to succeed Speaker Nancy Pelosi after she announced Thursday that she is stepping down.

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“He has shown the ability to listen, to lead, and to do so with effectiveness and compassion,” said Minnesota Representative Dean Phillips, who is among Democrats pushing for a new generation of leaders who better reflect the nation’s young and diverse voting base. party.

Jeffries, 52, would be the first leader of the Black party in Congress and has long been seen as Pelosi’s heir.

His candidacy for the top spot has not been formally announced when Democrats choose their leaders at the end of the month. But Pelosi’s decision to resign while remaining in Congress prompted a cascade of changes at the top of the House hierarchy that succeeded him.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, 83, the second-ranking House Democrat, and Majority Leader James Clyburn, 82, the No. 1 Democrat, endorsed the bill. 3, Jeffries for the best job.

“The time is now for a new generation of leaders, and I am proud to give my strong support to Hakeem Jeffries as Democratic Leader,” Hoyer said in a statement.

Representative Joyce Beatty of Ohio said she expects the influential Congressional Black Caucus, which she chairs, to give Jeffries full support as well.

Other Democrats expected to seek leadership roles include Massachusetts Representative Katherine Clark, 59, who is the No. 1 Democrat. 4 in the room; California Rep. Pete Aguilar, 43; and Rep. Joe Neguse of Colorado, who is 38. Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, 57, chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, also said she may seek a leadership position.

Jeffries was elected last week to a sixth term with more than 70% of the vote in his district, which includes parts of Brooklyn and Queens. Although some Democrats have expressed concern that the party needs to win back support from Middle America, his ascension would put two New Yorkers in charge of Democrats in both chambers of Congress. Chuck Schumer is the Senate majority leader.

Dubbed “The Barack of Brooklyn”, a reference to former President Barack Obama’s broad appeal, Jeffries often makes cerebral and scholarly arguments with occasional pop references. He used lyrics from the late rapper and Brooklyn native, the Notorious BIG to make points on the floor of the House and in the first impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

Social and economic issues were a large part of Jeffries’ legislative repertoire, including housing and criminal justice. Although a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Jeffries has also cultivated relationships with business, including New York’s financial industry. He also had to resolve tensions with the party’s most liberal members over defending moderate incumbents against key progressive challenges.

Jeffries is currently the chairman of the House Democratic caucus, technically the fifth leadership position. However, he is becoming the main spokesman for House Democrats, after Pelosi, doling out jobs to House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, Trump and other Republicans.

He is also traveling to fundraise and campaign for fellow Democrats. It is now expected that he will be calling in some of those political chits.

Representative Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania, who won re-election in a district that favored Trump, called Jeffries a “close friend” and “your favorite choice” to succeed Pelosi. “He’s a great caucus chair. I can’t think of a single misstep he has made. So I think it’s up to him,” Cartwright said.

Phillips, who wants to make changes to the party’s internal rules to elevate younger members, said Jeffries “represents not only our caucus but the United States of America in a very exciting way.”

–With assistance from Emily Wilkins.

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