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Hakeem Jefferies launches bid to replace Pelosi as top House Democrat

with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi And with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer stepping down from a leadership role in the next Congress, members of a “new generation” of House Democrats are stepping up to the plate, as Pelosi called it. Representative Jim Clyburn has also indicated he is stepping down from his position as whip, but may remain in the leadership.

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

Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries
Democratic Caucus Chairman Representative Hakeem Jeffries holds a news conference on November 15, 2022 in Washington, DC

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


According to a Jeffries aide, on Friday morning, Jeffries sent separate letters to each of his Democratic colleagues explaining why they should choose their next leader.

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

And Pete Aguilar of California, the 43-year-old Democratic caucus vice chair, is running for the 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 stage that the time has come for a new generation to lead our illustrious House Democratic Caucus,” Pelosi said in a statement Friday. “It is with pride, gratitude and confidence in their abilities that I salute President Hakeem Jefferies, Assistant President Katherine Clark and Vice President Pete Aguilar for being ready and willing to assume this formidable responsibility.”

It’s unclear who else may jump into the race at this point. House Democrats are gathering on November 30 and December 1 after Thanksgiving to vote on their leadership.

Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy won the Republican nomination for Speaker, But he still must get at least 218 votes in the next Congress — and a handful of Republicans are indicating they will split. Republicans will have a smaller majority than expected before the midterms, making the race for speaker more challenging for McCarthy.

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