Democrats are now talking openly about Minority Leader Nancy Pelosiís future in the House.
Promoting California Rep. Barbara Leeís bid for Caucus vice chairwoman, Rep. G.K. Butterfield (N.C.) said Lee would bring a much-needed womanís perspective to the leadership team should Pelosi step down.
ďI donít want an all-male leadership team. I mean, if we were to have, letís say, Pelosiís gone, if we had Steny Hoyer and [James Clyburn] and Xavier Becerra and Joe Crowley, that would be an all-male team. And thatís not a good idea. I think our Democratic Caucus is more diverse than that,Ē Butterfield told Roll Call.
The frank argument from Butterfield, a co-chairman of Leeís campaign along with Rep. Jan Schakowsky (Ill.), marks something of a turning point for House Democrats, who have often ó but only privately ó discussed Pelosiís future.
One factor pushing those discussions into the open was Pelosiís suggestion of delaying Democratic leadership elections to as late as December. That prompted concern among supporters of Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) that Pelosi was maneuvering to back a challenge to him should she give up the top post.
The date of the leadership elections for the new Congress remains undecided, Democratic sources said today.
Butterfield said he does not know Pelosiís plans.
ďPelosi is not going to disclose her intentions to anyone outside of a very tightly knit circle,Ē he said. ďSo I would not be in a position to even begin to know what her intentions are. I can only guess.Ē
And Butterfield said he still hopes Democrats will win control of the House and be able to reinstall Pelosi as Speaker.
ďBut if for whatever reason that doesnít happen, then thereís going to be a major realignment,Ē Butterfield said.
A senior Democratic aide noted that the vice chairmanship isnít the only leadership slot a woman could occupy. Should Pelosi leave, the source said, that would introduce fluidity into the leadership races, providing women with new opportunities.
In particular, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.) would likely enter the mix for Assistant Leader if Pelosi left, Hoyer ran for Minority Leader and Rep. James Clyburn, the current Assistant Leader, campaigned for Whip.
Butterfield said it is not clear whether the Assistant Leader position is permanent or whether it or the Caucus chairmanís job is the third-ranking leadership post.
Lee is up against Reps. Joe Crowley (N.Y.) and Jared Polis (Colo.) for the vice chairmanship, although neither has officially announced their candidacy.
ďMy focus right now, like that of so many of my colleagues, is putting Democrats back in charge of the House. Looking forward, I have talked to many of my colleagues who have strongly encouraged me to run for vice chair, which I am doing,Ē Lee said in a statement to Roll Call.
Following the speeches from elected officials, the crowd stands at long tables as they dig into BBQ, brunswick stew, cadillac rice at the Law Enforcement Cookout at Wayne Dasher's pond house in Glennville, Ga., on Thursday, April 17, 2014.