Katherine Clark secures No. 4 leadership spot for House Democrats

Katherine Clark secures No. 4 leadership spot for House Democrats
© Greg Nash

Rep. Katherine ClarkKatherine Marlea ClarkDemocratic scramble complicates Biden's human infrastructure plan Child care advocates seek to lock down billion in new federal funding Pelosi says House will move immediately on COVID-19 relief MORE ascended the Democratic leadership ladder on Wednesday, jumping two rungs to claim the No. 4 spot atop the caucus in the coming Congress.

The four-term Massachusetts lawmaker beat back a challenge from Rep. David CicillineDavid CicillineRepublicans float support for antitrust reform after Trump Facebook ban upheld Washington keeps close eye as Apple antitrust fight goes to court Hillicon Valley: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube execs to testify at Senate hearing on algorithms | Five big players to watch in Big Tech's antitrust fight MORE (D-R.I.) to become assistant Speaker, a spot vacated by Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), who won election to the Senate. The vote was 135 to 92 in the secret balloting, which allows lawmakers anonymity in picking their leadership choices.

A former prosecutor, Clark came to Congress in 2013 following a special election to replace now-Sen. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyCivilian Climate Corps can help stem rural-urban divide Senate votes to nix Trump rule limiting methane regulation Senate Democrats push Biden over raising refugee cap MORE (D-Mass.). She is currently the vice chair of the caucus, a position she’s held for the last two years under Chairman Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesOn The Money: Breaking down Biden's .8T American Families Plan | Powell voices confidence in Fed's handle on inflation | Wall Street basks in 'Biden boom' Democratic leaders push to boost congressional staff pay Troy Carter wins race to fill Cedric Richmond's Louisiana House seat MORE (D-N.Y.), who won reelection to that seat Wednesday.


Her victory ensures that Democrats, historically sensitive to the politics of identity and diversity, will have another woman in the highest reaches of leadership, below Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Weekly jobless claims fall to 498K, hitting new post-lockdown low | House to advance appropriations bills in June, July Rural Democrats urge protections from tax increases for family farms Cheney fight stokes cries of GOP double standard for women MORE (D-Calif.), who’s led the party since 2003 but has vowed the next term to be her last.

Cicilline, who heads the Democrats’ messaging arm, had brought his own diverse background to the race. The former Providence mayor is the only Jewish member of leadership and a longtime member of the Congressional LGBTQ Equality Caucus, which along with the Human Rights Campaign had endorsed him in the contest.

The assistant Speaker position was created by Pelosi in 2018 as a landing spot for Lujan, who had just guided the Democrats back to the House majority after eight years without the gavel. 

Clark, 57, is one of the party’s strongest fundraisers, a trait that will position her well to climb even higher when the top three Democrats — Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerOn The Money: Weekly jobless claims fall to 498K, hitting new post-lockdown low | House to advance appropriations bills in June, July House to consider anti-Asian hate crimes bill, protections for pregnant workers this month Top Democrat: Bill to boost Capitol security likely to advance this month MORE (Md.) and Majority Whip James Clyburn (S.C.) — eventually step aside.

This cycle, she raised $4.5 million for House Democrats, sprinkling that money around to 166 incumbents and new candidates as well as the party’s campaign arm.


Clark’s also been cultivating relationships with two critical voting blocs in the increasingly diverse caucus: women and minorities. Clark is a member of an informal group of female lawmakers, the “Pink Ladies,” who eat dinner together after votes when they are in Washington.

And Clark has been quietly courting members of the minority caucuses. In recent years, she’s attended weekend galas hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC).

Among those who endorsed her were former CBC Chairman Emanuel Cleaver (Mo.); Rep. Grace Meng (N.Y.), a top Democratic National Committee official and CAPAC leader; Rep. Sylvia Garcia (Texas), a CHC member who was an impeachment manager; and Rep. Mark Pocan (Wis.), a co-chairman of both the Progressive Caucus and Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus.