Barbara Lee to run for House Dem leadership

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California Rep. Barbara Lee is making another run for House Democratic leadership.

Lee made her candidacy official this week for the fifth-ranking position as vice chair of the House Democratic caucus in a letter to colleagues.

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“As Vice Chair, I will work to find innovative ways to champion the issues that are important to you, your district and our caucus,” Lee wrote in a letter obtained by The Hill.

The current vice chair, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) is limited to serving only two terms. House Democrats are expected to vote on a new caucus chairman and vice chairman during the lame-duck session after the November elections.

Lee acknowledged in an interview Wednesday that she’s rolling out her candidacy early in the game at least 10 months out from the leadership elections. 

“We have a large caucus and I’m trying to talk to everybody in our caucus,” Lee said.

“It’s a campaign. And you have to start early and earn members’ support. You don’t automatically get it because you know them,” she added.

Lee already has another competitor for the vice chair slot in fellow California Democrat Rep. Linda Sanchez, who currently chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Sanchez announced her candidacy last month.

The maneuvering for the fifth-ranking leadership post underscores the limited opportunities for ambitious Democrats to move up the ladder. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is showing no signs of wanting to retire, and neither are Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) and Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (S.C.).

Lee previously ran for the slot in 2012. She ultimately withdrew when it appeared Crowley had locked up the votes. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) also ran for the position.

The California Democrat is a former chairwoman of the influential Congressional Black Caucus and Progressive Caucus. She also chairs a Democratic task force on reducing poverty and serves on the whip team.

Lee has further carved a name for herself on foreign policy over her 18 years in Congress.

She was the only lawmaker to vote against authorizing “all necessary and appropriate force” after the 9/11 attacks. Last year, she co-authored a bipartisan resolution with Reps. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Walter Jones (R-N.C.) requiring troops stationed abroad fighting the Islamic State to be removed until Congress approves a new war authorization.

 

 

 

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