Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the No. 5 House Democrat, is reportedly a top candidate to replace Nancy Pelosi as the leader of House Democrats.
What are the details?
Jeffries reportedly met with House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) in a “secret meeting” on Sept. 1 while Congress was on recess, Politico reported. At that meeting, Jeffries likely secured Clyburn’s support to become the next leader of House Democrats.
The 52-year-old New York Democrat purportedly summoned Clyburn after hearing that Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) is also privately vying for the position.
The 52-year-old Jeffries was concerned enough that he offered to fly to South Carolina to seek the counsel of the 82-year-old Clyburn. The younger lawmaker wanted to gently make sure his elder in the Congressional Black Caucus knew of Schiff’s quiet campaign — and to even more gently warn Clyburn about the risk of splitting votes between them and opening a path for the ambitious Californian.
In an interview with Politico, Clyburn indicated he would not block Jeffries from becoming the next leader. After all, Clyburn is 82 years old, while Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is 83 years old.
“There’s nothing I would ever do to impede the progress of our up-and-coming young Democrats and I see him as an up-and-coming young Democrat,” Clyburn said. “He knows that, I didn’t have to tell him that — but I did.”
Is Pelosi stepping down?
It is widely expected that if Democrats lose control of the House (which is almost certain), then Pelosi will step down from her position — even if she wins reelection to Congress.
Pelosi has led the party for nearly 20 years, but at 83 years of age, many in the party believe it could be the right time for new leadership. Still, her fundraising prowess alone (she has raised more than $1.25 billion for Democrats during her tenure as leader, according to the New York Times) will make her difficult to beat if she does not willingly concede control of the party.
But if she does, Democrats believe Jeffries could be the perfect fit for their party.
Democratic lawmakers who spoke with Politico described Jeffries as their “best option as leader because he’s the rare member who’s proficient at both the outside and inside game, skilled enough to carry the party’s message on television but also attuned to his colleague’s needs and wants,” the news outlet explained.