'Squad' members recruit Raskin to run for Oversight gavel

'Squad' members recruit Raskin to run for Oversight gavel
© Greg Nash

Two key members of “The Squad” — progressive freshman Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Sanders-Biden climate task force calls for carbon-free power by 2035 | Park Police did not record radio transmissions during June 1 sweep of White House protesters | Court upholds protections for Yellowstone grizzly bears Biden-Sanders 'unity task force' rolls out platform recommendations Sanders-Biden climate task force calls for carbon-free power by 2035 MORE (D-N.Y.) and Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibDemocrats see victory in Trump culture war The Hill's Campaign Report: Colorado, Utah primary results bring upsets, intrigue Progressive lawmakers call for conditions on Israel aid MORE (D-Mich.) — are trying to recruit liberal Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinDemocrats start cracking down on masks for lawmakers Clyburn threatens to end in-person coronavirus committee hearings if Republicans won't wear masks The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Dems, GOP dig in on police reform ahead of House vote MORE (D-Md.) to run for Oversight Committee chairman, a move that would scramble an already crowded race to head one of the panels leading the impeachment inquiry into President TrumpDonald John TrumpKimberly Guilfoyle reports being asymptomatic and 'feeling really pretty good' after COVID-19 diagnosis Biden says he will rejoin WHO on his first day in office Lincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad MORE.

Sources familiar with the conversations said Raskin had no plans to run to succeed the panel's previous chairman, the late Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsFacial recognition tools under fresh scrutiny amid police protests The sad spectacle of Trump's enablers Democrat Kweisi Mfume wins House primary in Maryland MORE, a fellow Maryland Democrat who died last week at the age of 68.

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But Raskin, 56, has told Ocasio-Cortez and Tlaib he will give it “serious reflection,” the sources told The Hill on Tuesday.

The congresswomen — who said they represent a contingent of young lawmakers hungry for change on the powerful panel — told Raskin they wanted a liberal firebrand who would undertake “strong and aggressive” oversight of the Trump administration.

Three members of "The Squad" — Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib and Rep. Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyThe Hill's Campaign Report: Colorado, Utah primary results bring upsets, intrigue Progressives zero in on another House chairman in primary Ocasio-Cortez pitches interns to work for her instead of McConnell MORE (D-Mass.) — serve on the Oversight panel. The fourth, Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarTucker Carlson ratchets up criticism of Duckworth, calls her a 'coward' The Hill's Campaign Report: Colorado, Utah primary results bring upsets, intrigue Progressive lawmakers call for conditions on Israel aid MORE (D-Minn.), does not but she called Raskin one of her "favorite" colleagues and said she could back him for chairman.

Raskin “would be a true leader when it comes to holding this Trump administration accountable and especially a leader on this impeachment inquiry,” Tlaib told The Hill in a brief interview before stepping into a closed-door impeachment hearing.

“It would be incredible at this time, with the actions being taken by this administration, to have a constitutional law professor lead the fight in the House Oversight Committee.”

A top Democratic leader described Raskin as extremely smart and talented, but described his longshot victory in the battle for the Oversight post as “unlikely but not impossible.”

Raskin’s possible entry in the race would pit a rising-star, sophomore lawmaker against a quartet of older, more senior lawmakers who are running or expected to run for the top Oversight job. 

Reps. Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn Bosher MaloneyNew York candidates left on hold as primary results trickle in New Jersey incumbents steamroll progressive challengers in primaries Nurses union warns of shortage in protective gear amid new coronavirus surge MORE (N.Y.), 73, Stephen LynchStephen Francis LynchThe Hill's Campaign Report: Jacksonville mandates face coverings as GOP convention approaches Steyer endorses Markey in Massachusetts Senate primary House GOP lawmakers defy new mask requirement MORE (Mass), 64, Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyBlack Caucus rallies behind Meeks for Foreign Affairs gavel Ousted watchdog says he told top State aides about Pompeo probe House committee chair requests immediate briefing on Secret Service's involvement in clearing protesters MORE (Va.), 69, and Jackie SpeierKaren (Jackie) Lorraine Jacqueline SpeierProtests force military reckoning on race Air Force documents acknowledged 'persistent' racial bias in justice system HHS watchdog says actions should be free from political interference MORE (Calif.), 69, have all started calling and buttonholing fellow Oversight members and members of the influential Steering Committee, which eventually will make a recommendation to the full caucus about who should fill the job on a permanent basis. 

Maloney, who is the most senior member on the panel, is serving as acting chairwoman and has told colleagues she will seek the permanent role. And both Speier and Lynch have publicly stated they are running.

Connolly has not officially declared, saying he wanted to delay his decision out of respect for Cummings. But he privately began informing colleagues this week he intends to jump into the race very soon.

“I’m taking soundings,” Connolly told The Hill on Tuesday. “What I mean by that is I’m talking to leadership, talking to Steering Committee members, talking to colleagues on the committee and off the committee.”

When told that Democratic colleagues believe he will run, Connolly replied: “They are certainly not wrong about my passion for the race and my desire to make my contribution at a time that is very critical for the country.”

Oversight is one of three committees leading the impeachment investigation into Trump — along with Intelligence and Foreign Affairs — and some Democrats have suggested that a more polished communicator like Speier or Connolly, who are both a frequent presence on cable news shows, would be a stronger chair for a high-stakes moment in politics.

Raskin, too, is a respected communicator and frequent guest on MSNBC. The former American University constitutional law professor has also been a sherpa of sorts for House Democrats navigating constitutional issues, including impeachment and the Emoluments Clause.

But Maloney appears to have the backing of the powerful Congressional Black Caucus. While the 53-member CBC has not formally endorsed Maloney, many of its members have said they are backing the 14-term New York congresswoman because she is the most senior member.

“I always value seniority and I’m going to continue to support seniority,” said Rep. Al GreenAlexander (Al) N. GreenThe Memo: Trump's race tactics fall flat Trump administration ending support for 7 Texas testing sites as coronavirus cases spike The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Miami mayor worries about suicide and domestic violence rise; Trump-governor debate intensifies MORE (D-Texas), a CBC member. “Because in the long run, seniority benefits all of us, including CBC members.”

After Maloney, the most senior members of the committee are two veteran African American lawmakers: Del. Eleanor Holmes NortonEleanor Holmes NortonJackson, Mississippi votes to remove Andrew Jackson statue from City Hall FedEx asks Washington Redskins to change team name Sunday shows preview: With coronavirus cases surging, lawmakers and health officials weigh in MORE (D-D.C.) and Rep. Lacy ClayWilliam (Lacy) Lacy ClayGOP House candidate publishes 23-page report claiming George Floyd death was deepfake video Calls for police reform sparks divisions in Congress The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pence visits Orlando as all 50 states reopen MORE (D-Mo.), neither of whom are running this time around.

However, some Democrats pointed out that it was Cummings who beat out a more senior Maloney in the race to lead the Oversight panel back in 2010. The CBC backed Cummings in that contest.

The Oversight vacancy created by Cummings’s death will be filled permanently during the second week of November after a two-week congressional recess, said Rep. Katherine ClarkKatherine Marlea ClarkHouse pushes back schedule to pass spending bills Gun control group rolls out House endorsements Pelosi scrambles to secure quick passage of coronavirus aid MORE (D-Mass.), the Democratic caucus vice chairwoman.

The Speaker-aligned Steering Committee, which includes members of leadership and regional representatives, will hear from the candidates first and make a recommendation to the full Democratic caucus. Those 234 Democrats will then vote on whether or not to accept the recommendation.

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Lynch, who chairs Oversight’s National Security subcommittee, touted his background as a former attorney in his pitch for the gavel.

"I'm an attorney, so I'm familiar with multi-party and complex litigation. That's sort of what we've got going on between us and the White House and State Department and the courts,” Lynch said. “So I think I can help a great deal in that respect.”

While some Democrats are emphasizing seniority, others are arguing that diversity should be a factor. If Lynch or Connolly are selected, these Democrats said, that will mean there will be four white male committee chairmen leading the impeachment probe of Trump. The others are Intelligence Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffDemocrats hit Trump for handling of Russian bounty allegations after White House briefing Voters must strongly reject the president's abuses by voting him out this November Democrats face tough questions with Bolton MORE (D-Calif.), Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelNew York candidates left on hold as primary results trickle in New Jersey incumbents steamroll progressive challengers in primaries Trump's WHO decision raises bipartisan concerns in House MORE (D-N.Y.) and Judiciary Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerNadler wins Democratic primary Voters must strongly reject the president's abuses by voting him out this November Clyburn threatens to end in-person coronavirus committee hearings if Republicans won't wear masks MORE (D-N.Y.).

“I think Jackie would be stronger for this moment because she is a good communicator and sits on the Intelligence Committee too,” said one House Democrat, “but Maloney may be better for the long haul because of her experience.”

– Cristina Marcos contributed