Elections for leadership positions are still a year away, but Rep. Linda T. Sánchez is laying the groundwork for her campaign.
The California Democrat and chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus circulated a letter to each of her colleagues Wednesday asking for their support in her bid to be the Democratic Caucus vice chairwoman for the 115th Congress. "Over the next several months I will work to earn your support to be the next Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus,"Sánchez wrote in her letter, obtained by Roll Call. "I look forward to continuing our discussions about your priorities and share with you my vision of how we can lead our caucus, and our country, forward."
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Sánchez touted her diverse résumé over her 13 years in office — she currently sits on the powerful Ways and Means Committee and was appointed by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to serve as the top Democrat on Ethics and as a member of the Select Committee on Benghazi.
At a time when the most senior slate of House Democrats are in their 70s and have maintained their hold on power for years, Sánchez emphasized the extent to which she's been collaborative as chairwoman of the CHC.
"I have worked closely with our CHC members — new and experienced — and the entire Democratic Caucus to champion the issues that are important to the Latino community," she said.
Rep. Joseph Crowley of New York, the current caucus vice chairman, is term limited in 2017, as is the current chairman, Rep. Xavier Becerra of California. While it's unclear what Becerra might have planned in order to stay relevant past his tenure, Crowley is widely expected to seek election to succeed Becerra.
It's not clear whether Crowley will have a challenger, but at the moment Sánchez has an opponent in fellow California Rep. Barbara Lee, who is formidable in her own right.
Lee is an appropriator and a stalwart of the Progressive Caucus. She is also a former chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, meaning she's made inroads with African-American lawmakers as Sánchez might have loyalty from within the House's Latino contingent.
Generally speaking, however, the two lawmakers both have strong connections and draw from similar circles, not the least of which is the sizable California delegation. As the members court colleagues for votes, things could get messy, even if the candidates themselves are aiming to keep the race clean.
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