Hispanic Caucus rallying behind Luján in leadership bid

Leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) are rallying behind one of their own, Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), in his bid to become the fourth-ranking Democrat in the House next year.

The CHC is asking its 30 members to sign onto a “Dear Colleague” letter pitching Luján that would be disseminated to the broader Democratic Caucus.

“Can you please let me know if your boss is supportive of CHC sending the letter below in support of Rep. Luján for Assistant Democratic Leader?” Alma Acosta, the CHC’s executive director, asked in an email sent Wednesday evening to the chiefs of staff of all CHC members.

Luján, who heads the Democrats’ campaign arm, jumped into the race for the assistant leader position on Wednesday, one day after he ushered the party to sweeping midterm victories that will shift control of the House next year. The spot is currently held by Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), who is vacating the post to run for the majority whip seat in the next Congress.

Reps. Cheri BustosCheryl (Cheri) Lea BustosProgressive demands put new pressures on Democrats House Dems haul in record donations for February The 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority MORE (D-Ill.) and David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineRepublicans defend McCain amid Trump attacks EU fines Google .7B over advertising agreements On The Money: Liberal groups pressure Dems over Trump's tax returns | Top Trump economist says tax cuts powering economy | Trump Jr. slams Theresa May over Brexit delay | Watchdog warns of 'rosy' assumptions in Trump budget MORE (D-R.I.), both co-chairs of the Democrats’ messaging arm, are also seeking the assistant leader position, having announced their candidacies more than a month ago. Luján's late jump into the race could complicate his effort to build support, as a number of lawmakers have already committed to either Bustos or Cicilline.

Still, Luján's recent work as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) — and the midterm victory it helped bring about — lends him a strong case, and there’s a growing sense in the caucus that he’ll be rewarded with a higher leadership post next year. Many Democrats think he’s the hands-on favorite in the race.

The CHC’s endorsement is widely expected, giving Luján the boost of a major minority constituency in the liberal-heavy Democratic Caucus.

The CHC’s “Dear Colleague” letter portrays Luján as a liberal fighter for immigration reform, health-care access and civil liberties, particularly for minority communities and other vulnerable populations. It also touts Luján's historic position as the first Hispanic to lead the DCCC, a post he used to promote the hiring of minority staff and the recruitment of minority candidates.

“He ensured there was real, sustained engagement with communities of color — not simply at the end,” the letter reads. “This week’s victory was in no small part due to Ben Ray Lujan’s commitment.”

Both Bustos and Cicilline have made their own cases for bringing diversity to the leadership table. Cicilline is one of just a handful of openly gay lawmakers on Capitol Hill, while Bustos, whose rural district was carried by President TrumpDonald John TrumpClinton and Ocasio-Cortez joke about Kushner's alleged use of WhatsApp Missouri Gov. declares state of emergency amid severe flooding Swalwell on Hicks testimony: 'She's going to have to tell us who she lied for' in Trump admin MORE in 2016, is arguing the need to empower more heartland voices in the top leadership ranks — a call for regional diversity that was particularly trenchant following the election of Trump.

Luján is not the only Hispanic Caucus member seeking a leadership spot next year.

Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.), currently the vice chairwoman of the caucus, is running to move up a notch and replace outgoing Chairman Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.), who lost his primary race in June. She’s facing Rep. Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeHarris receives endorsement from 6 home-state mayors Dems put spotlight on diversity in tech Hillicon Valley: T-Mobile, Sprint racked up Trump hotel bills | Progressives find fresh target in telecom merger | Lawmakers divided over state privacy rules | FCC warns of future probe into Sinclair allegations MORE (D-Calif.), a member of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) who lost to Sánchez for the vice chairwoman spot by a razor-thin margin two years ago. Many Democrats expect that Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesBipartisan think tank to honor lawmakers who offer 'a positive tenor' GOP leader needles Dems on anti-Semitism resolution Dems under fire put brakes on Omar resolution MORE (D-N.Y.), another CBC member, may also jump into that contest.

Rep. Pete AguilarPeter (Pete) Ray AguilarLeft flexes muscle in immigration talks Immigration groups press for pairing Dreamer benefits with border security Lawmakers haggling over border dollars much lower than Trump's demand MORE (D-Calif.), another CHC member, is running to replace Sánchez as vice chairman. He’s facing Rep. Katherine ClarkKatherine Marlea ClarkChances of passing Dem budget are '50-50,' says chairman House to vote Thursday on anti-Semitism resolution Dems struggle to unify after GOP embarrasses them on procedure MORE (D), a Massachusetts lawmaker who raised more than $3.3 million to elect Democrats to the House this year.