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Cicilline, Clark privately jockeying for top leadership role

Cicilline, Clark privately jockeying for top leadership role
© Greg Nash

Reps. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineJustice Department charges Google with illegally maintaining search monopoly Pocan won't seek another term as Progressive Caucus co-chair Jewish lawmakers targeted by anti-Semitic tweets ahead of election: ADL MORE (D-R.I.) and Katherine ClarkKatherine Marlea ClarkPocan won't seek another term as Progressive Caucus co-chair Democratic leaders: Supreme Court fight is about ObamaCare Rep. Robin Kelly enters race for Democratic caucus vice chair MORE (D-Mass.) are privately campaigning for the role of assistant speaker by aggressively meeting with members to garner support for their bids, multiple Democratic sources tell The Hill.

While neither Cicilline nor Clark has made a formal announcement for a leadership run, sources say their behind-the-scenes efforts have been in the works for weeks and are a sign that the jockeying for the fourth-ranking position in the Democratic leadership is heating up.

If both follow through, they will join Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), who became the first member to publicly announce he is running for the role on Friday. 

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The assistant speaker position is the one leadership role that will not have a sitting incumbent. Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), the current assistant speaker, is running for the Senate.

Cicilline, the vice chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus who serves as the head of the Democrats' messaging arm, has raised his profile over the last year. 

He was a big part of congressional hearings on large technology companies and the impeachment inquiry into President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump admin to announce coronavirus vaccine will be covered under Medicare, Medicaid: report Election officials say they're getting suspicious emails that may be part of malicious attack on voting: report McConnell tees up Trump judicial pick following Supreme Court vote MORE. Cicilline, the first openly gay man to serve in Democratic leadership, has long been seen as eyeing ways to rise in the hierarchy.

Clark, a progressive who serves as vice chairwoman of the House Democratic Caucus, has been playing the long game. Her unassuming efforts to rise in leadership while quietly building support among House colleagues — including an effort to curry favor with minority and female lawmakers — has earned her the nickname the “the silent assassin.”

Cárdenas, who also has previously had a stint in leadership, has highlighted his experience leading the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’s political arm, Bold PAC, which raised $17 million to elect Democrats and increased the number of Hispanic members from 25 to 39 over the course of two election cycles.

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While there is no set date for House Democrats’ leadership elections, such a vote typically takes place a few weeks after the conclusion of the November elections.

One lawmaker said all three lawmakers jockeying for the position have reached out in recent weeks, but the member has not yet committed to vote for any of the candidates. 

Two sources described Clark as someone they considered the most formidable of the three, while another voiced support for Cicilline.

Other sources praised the candidate pool and said the outcome of the race will be a win-win for the party.

“Cicilline is an exceptionally talented messenger who’s well respected amongst his peers. Clark is a congenial member who is liked across the board. And Cárdenas is a prominent voice for many of the principles that are near and dear to our party,” said one senior Democratic aide.

“This is a home run for Democrats no matter which way you cut it,” the aide added, calling them a “can’t-miss group.”