Cicilline bows out of assistant leader race, paving path for Lujan

 
The move means that Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), the head of the Democrats’ campaign arm, will run unopposed to become assistant leader next year — the No. 4 spot in their newly won majority that’s being vacated by Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), who’s seeking to become majority whip.
 
The move by Cicilline represented an acknowledgement that Luján, who shepherded the Democrats to sweeping midterm victories as Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) chairman, deserves a spot in the higher ranks of leadership.
 
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“Like many of you, I believe that Chairman Lujan deserves a place at the leadership table after helping usher in our historic Democratic victory,” Cicilline wrote in a “Dear Colleague” letter to fellow Democrats. “Since Chairman Lujan entered the race, I have been asking myself how I can continue to effectively contribute to the Democratic Caucus in an elected leadership position, while recognizing Chairman Lujan’s critical role in our success.”
 
Cicilline's decision followed the move by Rep. Cheri BustosCheryl (Cheri) Lea Bustos Democrats plot new approach to win over rural voters The Hill's Campaign Report: Sanders, Warren feud rattles Democrats House Democrats launch effort to register minority voters in key districts MORE (D-Ill.), co-chairwoman with Cicilline of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee (DPCC), to drop out of the assistant leader race.
 
She did so shortly after Luján jumped into the contest just after the elections. Bustos is now bidding to replace the New Mexico lawmaker atop the DCCC.
 
 
The DPCC was launched by Pelosi in 2015. Former Rep. Steve Isreal (D-N.Y.) filled the post until his retirement in January of 2017. 
 
The spot was expanded following the Democrats’ election drubbing two years ago, with the leadership duties split between three co-chairs selected by the full caucus — an effort by Pelosi to heed calls from her restive caucus to disseminate power more widely to rank-and-file members. Cicilline, Bustos and Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesAbortion protester briefly interrupts impeachment trial Senate rejects subpoenaing Mulvaney to testify in impeachment trial Jeffries: Even Nixon didn't block White House aides from testifying MORE (D-N.Y.) currently fill those sits. 
 
On Tuesday night, Pelosi announced her intention to expand the DPCC once again, by adding a chairmanship position that would serve above the three co-chairs.
 
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It’s unclear if any of those Democrats will seek the soon-to-be-created DPCC chairmanship slot.
 
The Democrats’ closed-door leadership elections will take place in the Capitol on Nov. 28.