Rep. Katherine Clark seeks Dem leadership spot

Rep. Katherine Clark seeks Dem leadership spot
© Greg Nash
 
Clark, a three-term lawmaker, is seeking to replace the current Democratic Caucus vice chairwoman, Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.), who is vying to move up a notch into the chairmanship spot.
 
In a letter sent Friday to her Democratic colleagues, Clark touted “unprecedented energy and enthusiasm” lending steam to Democrats heading into November’s midterm elections — the first national gauge of voter sentiment under the Trump administration.
 
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“But,” Clark cautioned, “this engagement can’t end with the election: We need accessible, inclusive leadership to help build a collaborative agenda that inspires our constituents and produces results.” 
 
“We can achieve this by ensuring that members have the tools to engage in direct, meaningful conversation with their constituents, and, in turn, empowering every member to share the needs and ideas of their communities to drive Democratic priorities,” she wrote.
 
To date, no other Democrat has announced a run at the vice chairmanship post, though a number of lawmakers are seen as eyeing leadership opportunities after the November elections.
 
The debate over the Democrats’ leadership future was shaken up last month with the shocking defeat of Rep. Joseph Crowley (N.Y.), the current Democratic Caucus chairman, to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old liberal activist who had never held elected office.
 
Crowley, a popular 10-term lawmaker and proficient fundraiser, was viewed by many Democrats as a natural successor to House Democratic Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiDems see Kavanaugh saga as playing to their advantage Democrats opposed to Pelosi lack challenger to topple her Sinema, Fitzpatrick call for long-term extension of Violence Against Women Act MORE (Calif.), who’s reigned atop the party since 2003.
 
Sánchez announced last week her intention to replace Crowley as the fourth-ranking House Democrat when he leaves Congress early next year. Rep. Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeRussia probe accelerates political prospects for House Intel Dems Overnight Defense: Officials rush to deny writing anonymous op-ed | Lawmakers offer measure on naming NATO headquarters after McCain | US, India sign deal on sharing intel Dems plan resolution to withdraw US forces from Yemen civil war MORE (Calif.) also jumped into that race this week, setting the stage for a rematch between the pair.
 
Sanchez had defeated Lee by just two votes for the vice chairmanship spot in 2016.
 
The imminent, post-Crowley shake-up comes as Democrats are at odds over who’s best suited to expand the party’s appeal and lead it into a crucial 2020 presidential cycle.
 
Pelosi and her top lieutenants — Reps. Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerDemocrats opposed to Pelosi lack challenger to topple her Dems' confidence swells with midterms fast approaching Trump's Puerto Rico tweets spark backlash MORE (D-Md.) and James Clyburn (D-S.C.) — are all in their late-70s and have been guiding the Democrats since 2006. Their longevity — combined with the Democrats’ long-running status as the minority in the House — has sparked growing frustrations among newer members that there’s a dearth of opportunities to rise within the party.
 
Pelosi on Thursday defended her tenure, reiterating her intention to remain the leader next year.
 
“What happens in the House Democratic leadership will happen after the election,” she said. “But I feel very confident in the support that I have in the House Democratic Caucus, and my focus is on winning this election because so much is at stake.”
 
Clark, who turned 55 last week, signaled she’s well aware of the lingering frustrations, vowing to give greater voice to rank-and-file members.
 
“My work with you, and with hundreds of our candidates in districts across the country, has solidified my belief that the diversity of our caucus is our greatest asset and that we are stronger as a caucus when every member has the chance to contribute,” she wrote.