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Hakeem Jeffries launches bid to replace Pelosi as top House Democrat

With House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer forgoing leadership roles in the next Congress, members of a “new generation” of House Democrats are stepping up to the plate, as Pelosi put it. Rep. Jim Clyburn has also indicated he’s stepping aside from his position as whip, but may remain in leadership.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, a 52-year-old New Yorker, is seeking the top position in House Democratic leadership as Republicans are projected to take the chamber. No one else has of yet formally announced any plans to run against Jeffries, who has been considered a frontrunner for the post in the event of Pelosi’s departure. Jeffries, currently the fourth-ranking Democrat in the House, would be the first Black House Democratic leader. 

Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries
Democratic Caucus Chair Rep. Hakeem Jeffries holds a news conference on Nov. 15, 2022, in Washington, D.C.

Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images


On Friday morning, Jeffries sent individual letters to each of his Democratic colleagues describing why they should choose him to be their next leader, according to an aide to Jeffries. 

Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, currently the 59-year-old assistant speaker, is running for the second top position in the House. 

And Pete Aguilar of California, the 43-year-old Democratic Caucus Vice Chair, is running for Democratic Caucus chair, the third-ranking Democratic position in the House.  

Pelosi has thrown her support behind Jeffries, Clark and Aguilar to lead the caucus, as has Clyburn. 

“Yesterday, I said on the floor that the time has come for a new generation to lead our magnificent House Democratic Caucus,” Pelosi said in a statement Friday. “It is with pride, gratitude and confidence in their abilities that I salute Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark and Vice Chairman Pete Aguilar for being ready and willing to assume this awesome responsibility.”

It’s unclear who else might jump into the races at this point. House Democrats are gathering after Thanksgiving on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 to vote on their leadership. 

Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has won Republicans’ nomination to be speaker, but he must still receive at least 218 votes in the next Congress — and a handful of Republicans are signaling they’ll detract. Republicans will have a narrower majority than many expected before the midterms, making the race for speaker more challenging for McCarthy.

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