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Democratic Women's Caucus members split endorsements for House campaign chief

Democratic Women's Caucus members split endorsements for House campaign chief
© Greg Nash

Members of the Democratic Women’s Caucus on Tuesday split their endorsements for who should lead the party’s House campaign arm heading into what’s expected to be a challenging midterm election.

Several lawmakers backed Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), while others threw their support behind Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) to lead the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) in the 2022 election cycle after Rep. Cheri BustosCheryl (Cheri) Lea BustosDemocrats confront difficult prospects for midterms Democrat Cheri Bustos to retire from Congress GOP campaign chief confident his party will win back House MORE (D-Ill.) decided not to seek reelection to the post following disappointing 2020 results.

The new endorsements for Cárdenas were revealed in a video where several Democratic congresswomen and former candidates talked about his work running Bold PAC, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) campaign arm.

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Support for Cárdenas came from California Democratic Reps. Lucille Roybal-AllardLucille Roybal-AllardHouse passes bills providing citizenship path for Dreamers, farmworkers Lawmakers call for action on first anniversary of Breonna Taylor's death House approves cyber funds in relief package as officials press for more MORE and Judy ChuJudy May ChuHouse to consider anti-Asian hate crimes bill, protections for pregnant workers this month Padilla introduces bill to expand California public lands Democrats praise Biden for recognizing Armenian genocide MORE, chairwoman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus; Rep. Susan WildSusan WildTime to prioritize the mental health of our frontline health care heroes Ambitious House lawmakers look for promotions House Democrats push Biden's Pentagon pick on civilian control of military MORE (Pa.), a frontline member; and Rep.-elect Teresa Leger Fernández (N.M.).

"I would not be going to Congress if Bold and Tony Cárdenas hadn't been willing to endorse me in a crowded primary," said Fernández, who will take over the seat vacated by Sen.-elect Ben Ray Luján (D).

The video also included endorsements from Reps. Donna ShalalaDonna Edna ShalalaCrist launches bid for Florida governor, seeking to recapture his old job Biden under pressure to spell out Cuba policy It's time for a second Conference on Food, Nutrition and Health MORE (Fla.) and Xochitl Torres Small (N.M.). Both lost their races on Nov. 3 and are therefore ineligible to vote for the next DCCC chair, but their voices still carry weight in the contest.

In a dear colleague letter that same day, eight other women from the caucus endorsed Maloney.

“We are supporting Sean Patrick Maloney for Chair of the DCCC because he understands the essential role women play in maintaining and expanding our majority. Sean will establish a dedicated Vice Chair for women’s recruitment and voter engagement – and ensure she has the  resources and staff required to analyze women candidates and voters and create the plan for 2022,” the lawmakers wrote.

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The letter was signed by Reps. Angie Craig (Minn.), Bonnie Watson ColemanBonnie Watson ColemanBiden takes victory lap after Senate passes coronavirus relief package Senate approves sweeping coronavirus measure in partisan vote Progressives won't oppose bill over limits on stimulus checks MORE (N.J.), Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn MaloneyHuffPost reporter: DCCC will help Dems fend off progressive challengers to 'keep them happy' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Chauvin conviction puts renewed focus on police reform Liberal advocacy group stirs debate, discomfort with primary challenges MORE (N.Y.), Jackie SpeierKaren (Jackie) Lorraine Jacqueline SpeierOvernight Defense: Administration says 'low to moderate confidence' Russia behind Afghanistan troop bounties | 'Low to medium risk' of Russia invading Ukraine in next few weeks | Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats he Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats hearing House removes deadline for ratifying ERA MORE (Calif.), Suzan DelBeneSuzan Kay DelBeneDemocrats signal House bill to go further than Biden proposal on child tax credit Democratic scramble complicates Biden's human infrastructure plan NIH reverses Trump administration's ban on fetal tissue research MORE, Mikie SherrillRebecca (Mikie) Michelle SherrillGOP lawmakers request briefing on Democrats' claims of 'suspicious' Capitol tours before Jan. 6 Lawmakers question NCAA over 'disparate treatment' at women's championships NJ lawmakers ask Gannett to stop 'union-busting' efforts at 3 state newspapers MORE (N.J.), Mary Gay ScanlonMary Gay ScanlonDemocrats introduce bill seeking to protect voting rights of people in subsidized housing Trump lawyer sued him for 'repeated claims' mail voting ripe with fraud Pelosi announces lawmakers will be fined ,000 if they bypass metal detectors to House floor MORE (Pa.) and Linda Sánchez (Calif.).

The Women's Caucus endorsements come as the race between Cárdenas and Maloney appears to have tightened, with Maloney securing support from two key CHC members, Sánchez and Rep. Verónica Escobar (Texas), who had been expected to back Cárdenas.

Maloney has brought an outsider pitch to the race, vowing to reform digital campaigning and do away with antiquated polling systems, while focusing less on fundraising.

The jab at fundraising is a thinly veiled attack on Cárdenas, who has proved himself a prolific fundraiser, taking Bold PAC from a small operation protecting CHC incumbents to a nationwide organization that's contributed to more than 200 House candidates.

Cárdenas's allies, apart from touting his fundraising accomplishments, say he has a better understanding of campaigning among diverse communities, a skill that will be necessary for Democrats to protect their slim majority heading into 2022.

“Tony has been a remarkable leader and fundraiser, whose work has increased the diversity of Congress. As DCCC chair, I know he will help us reach as many voters from as many communities as possible,” said Chu.

Luján, a former Bold PAC and DCCC chair, is heading Cárdenas's whip list, which includes an assortment of members from the CHC, Asian Pacific American Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus and frontline moderates like Wild.

Cárdenas supporters have highlighted his Bold PAC experience. The previous chairman, Luján, used Bold PAC as a stepping stone to the DCCC, where he engineered the 2018 election that returned Democrats to a majority in the House.

"As chair of Bold PAC, Tony has demonstrated an outstanding ability to lead the DCCC, to maintain our majority and increase it in what is likely to be a tough midterm election," said Roybal-Allard.

There are 88 Democratic women in the 116th Congress; that number is not expected to change dramatically for the incoming class. Many members have been reluctant to publicly voice their support for either Cárdenas or Maloney, in what remains as the last significant leadership race for House Democrats.

Updated on Nov. 25 at 10:31 a.m.