Here’s How Democrats’ Next Leadership Race Just Got More Intense | NTK Network Here’s How Democrats’ Next Leadership Race Just Got More Intense

Here’s How Democrats’ Next Leadership Race Just Got More Intense

One New Mexico Democrat’s decision to run for Senate is setting up a clear showdown between two contenders to replace Nancy Pelosi.

By NTK Staff | 04.03.2019 @12:00pm
Here’s How Democrats’ Next Leadership Race Just Got More Intense

Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) announced on Monday that he would run to succeed retiring Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) next year. Lujan, who had previously served as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), was widely viewed as a potential successor to Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Pelosi ran for speaker on the promise that she would limit her leadership to just two more terms. And despite the fact that Democrats appear to no longer be holding her to that promise, the 79-year-old will eventually loosen her grip on House Democrats.

Lujan’s decision to remove himself from that succession fight means that a clear showdown is developing between the two Democrat most likely to succeed Pelosi: Reps. Cheri Bustos (D-IL) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY).

Luján is the highest ranking Latino in Congress, a close ally of Pelosi and well-liked within the caucus. Jeffries, meanwhile, likely will have the backing of the powerful Congressional Black Caucus and has impressed members with his confrontational style as caucus chairman, not hesitating to directly challenge President Donald Trump in his weekly news conference.

Bustos is seen in some quarters as another potential future speaker. But Bustos has repeatedly declined to talk about her ambitions beyond being Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairwoman, including whether she wanted to be speaker someday.

Complicating matters are other potential candidates: Pelosi’s top lieutenants, Reps. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and James Clyburn (D-SC), both in their late 70s; and a series of younger Democrats viewed as potential candidates for speaker: Reps. Katherine Clark (D-NY), Cedric Richmond (D-LA), and Pete Aguilar (D-CA).

Complicating matters further is Jeffries current feud with the woman many are calling the “future of the Democratic Party,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).

In December, Politico reported that Ocasio-Cortez said defeating Jeffries in a primary was her “highest priority.” The beef was reportedly the result of a donation that Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) made to Ocasio-Cortez. That donation was used in a “whisper campaign” against Lee in a race for Democratic caucus chair, a race ultimately won by Jeffries.

Ocasio-Cortez complained about the Politico story on Twitter and called the reporting “birdcage lining.”

Still, if Jeffries can count Ocasio-Cortez as an enemy, or at least not an ally, it could complicate his ability to build a winning coalition among House Democrats.

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