Updated 4:47 p.m. | In a shock to her caucus, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi selected Rep. Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for the 2016 cycle.
Luján will lead his caucus' political arm and all aspects of the campaign to take back the gavel: fundraising, messaging, recruiting and getting out the vote.
The choice is Pelosi's lone decision, but it was a total shock to most Democrats on Capitol Hill.
"I am pleased recommend to our colleagues Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico, a dynamic and forward-looking leader with a fresh energy and ideas that demcorats need for victory in 2016," Pelosi said in a Monday news conference. "He has bold vision and determined leaership to deliver wins in difficult districts. I am confident [he] will prove a tireless champion."
Luján is not the first Hispanic to lead the committee. Rep. Tony Coelho of California ran the committee for three terms in the 1980s.
Running the DCCC will be a herculean task after the midterm elections translated into House Democrats' smallest caucus in modern history.
House Democrats will need to win around 30 seats in order to capture the gavel back for the party. Some of the 2014 race outcomes are still pending .
As for Luján, he apologized for tardiness to the press conference because "I couldn't get Mom off the phone." On a serious note, he said there are "great opportunities in 2016 to make gains with the more favorable electorate during a presidential year."
Reps. Donna Edwards of Maryland, Jim Himes of Connecticut, Jared Polis of Colorado and Joaquin Castro of Texas were previously believed to have the inside track for the job.
Pelosi first confirmed the news to The Washington Post in an interview. She tweeted the announcement as well.
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