House

Dem lawmaker sees 'probability’ that next Speaker will be black

Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) said in a new interview that "it is more than a possibility - it's a probability" that the next House Speaker will be African-American.

Fudge told Politico that she backs Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), who is currently the third-ranking House Democrat, for the position. 

Other black Democratic lawmakers who some have floated as successors to Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) if their party wins back a majority in the midterms include Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), Rep. Cedric Richmond (La.), Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.) and Fudge, Politico reported.

In an interview with Politico, Clyburn said that he has been preparing for the role "since my pre-teenage years." He said he is open to the possibility of running for Speaker "if the opportunity is there."  

Multiple Democratic lawmakers and House candidates in recent months have distanced themselves from Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who has said she would run for Speaker again. More than a dozen House candidates have pledged they would not vote for her if they were elected, denouncing Pelosi as a representative of the older, less-progressive Democratic establishment.

Fourth-ranking House Democrat Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) was floated as a Pelosi replacement before he was ousted by 28-year-old democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in a surprise primary upset last month. 

Politico reported more lawmakers have been discussing potential black Speakers in recent weeks.

There has never been a black lawmaker in charge of a party caucus in the House or Senate, and no black lawmaker has risen higher than the majority whip in the House, the news outlet noted. 

"We want people to see that the Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives is, with some intentionality, very inclusive," Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), a senior member of the CBC. "It's a powerful statement for the nation and maybe even for the world."

Jeffries, another possible contender for Speaker, has reportedly said he would not run against Pelosi and would back Clyburn if he ran. 

"I haven't ruled anything in, I haven't ruled anything out," Jeffries said. "My mindset is that we should all continue to be focused on winning back the majority in November, because that is the most significant thing that we can do on behalf of the people that we represent." 

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