Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries officially announced Friday that he was running to lead the House Democrats and replace House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
‘Today, I write to humbly ask for your support for the position of House Democratic Leader as we once again prepare to meet the moment,’ the New York Democrat wrote in a letter addressed to the members of the 118th Congress, which assembles in January.
The ascension of the 52-year-old Brooklynite, along with presumptive House Minority Whip Katherine Clark, 53, and Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar, 43, will drop the average age of Democratic leadership by 31 years.
Pelosi, 82, announced Thursday on the House floor that she would not be seeking the top job in Democratic leadership once the new Congress starts.
Her two longtime lieutenants – House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, 83, and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, 82 – are also stepping back.
Under Pelosi, Jeffries was the No. 4 most powerful Democrat.
He’ll make history as the first black leader of either party in Congress, should his colleagues elect him.
Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries officially announced Friday that he was running to lead the House Democrats to replace House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (right) embraces House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the House floor Thursday after she announced she would not be seeking her leadership position in the next Congress
On Friday, Pelosi sent out a statement endorsing the trio of younger leaders.
‘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,’ Pelosi said.
In a Friday afternoon statement, Hoyer also sang Jeffries praises.
‘I have complete confidence in his ability to lead our Caucus to success in the 118th Congress and to help us reclaim the Majority in 2024,’ the Maryland Democrat said. ‘With poise under pressure, dedication to those whom he leads, and a keen ability to unite those around him, he will surely serve as an effective and historic champion of our Caucus in the years ahead.’
So far it looks unlikely Jeffries, Clark and Aguilar will be challenged by any of their Democratic peers.
Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal announced Friday that she would seek reelection leading the left side of the party instead of mounting a challenge against Clark for Whip, Politico reported.
In his letter, Jeffies said his top ‘non-governmental priority’ would be retaking the House.
Democrats defied expectations and barely lost their House majority in the midterms earlier this month.
Currently, 218 Republicans – the exact number needed to take the majority – have been elected, versus 212 Democrats, with five races still uncalled.
‘It has sometimes been said that the job of the majority is to govern, while the job of the minority is to get back into the majority. Given the dangerous and dysfunctional nature of the Extreme MAGA Republicans who will dominate the ranks of the other side of the aisle in the 118th Congress, we must do both,’ Jeffries said.
Jeffries also called attention to the fact that he’s already been part of the Democratic leadership – and did so during turbulent times.
‘From the longest government shutdown in history, to the impeachment of a lawless president, a once-in-a-century pandemic, resulting economic crisis, reckoning with systemic racism, a violent insurrection, inauguration of a new President, second impeachment and finally a historically productive congressional term, my time as Chair of the dynamic House Democratic Caucus has been eventful,’ he noted. ‘Building upon this track record of leadership experience and collective success, I now look to the future.’
Additionally, Jeffies said he would prioritize members’ security.
‘As the horrifying attacks on Paul Pelosi, Steve Scalise and Gabby Giffords illustrate, these are dangerous times,’ he noted.
‘In a democracy, we should be able to agree to disagree without turning to violence. But that is not the case at the moment,’ he added.