Hakeem Jeffries Enters Democratic Caucus Chair Race

Now a three-way contest as Reps. Linda Sánchez and Barbara Lee were already running

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., is running for Democratic Caucus chair against California Reps. Linda Sanchez and Barbara Lee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries announced Thursday that he is running for Democratic Caucus chair, creating another three-way leadership race

California Reps. Linda Sánchez and Barbara Lee had announced months ago they were running for caucus chair. The two had squared off against one another for vice chair in 2016, a race that Sánchez won by just two votes. 

Jeffries, currently a co-chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, entering the caucus chair contest creates even more uncertainty over who will win.

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In a letter to colleagues Jeffries said is candidacy is anchored in three principles: 1) “Our team is strongest when everyone is on the playing field.” 2) “Learn from the past, succeed in the future.”  3) “The best defense is a good offense.” 

Continuing the sports metaphors, he said he envisions weekly caucus meetings “as the huddle, where we collectively decide the plays to be executed to advance the ball down the field.”      

All three caucus chair candidates are members of the Progressive Caucus, so the vote from that large bloc of Democrats will likely be split. Sánchez will likely earn the support of much of the Hispanic Caucus, which she has previously chaired. Jeffries and Lee will probably divide the Black Caucus in this race as well. 

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