House Democrats set leadership elections for Nov. 18-19

So far Democrats have three contested leadership races

From left, House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer are running unopposed for their posts, but other contested leadership elections are on House Democrats’ ballot.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
From left, House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer are running unopposed for their posts, but other contested leadership elections are on House Democrats’ ballot. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted October 15, 2020 at 1:08pm

House Democrats will hold their caucus leadership elections Nov. 18 and 19 and contested committee chairmanship elections the week of Nov. 30, Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries announced in a “Dear Colleague” letter Thursday.

The caucus leadership elections will occur just a few days after members return to Washington Nov. 16 for the first time after Election Day, leaving just a few days for any last-minute, in-person pleas for votes.

[House Democrats’ leadership races reflect coming generational change]

Every leadership position gets voted on, regardless of whether there is a contested race. The top three Democrats, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer and Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, are running uncontested for another term.

The highest-ranking contested race is for the No. 4 slot for assistant speaker. Current Democratic Caucus Vice Chairwoman Katherine M. Clark of Massachusetts, Democratic Policy and Communications Committee Chairman David Cicilline of Rhode Island and Congressional Hispanic Caucus BOLD PAC Chairman Tony Cárdenas of California are all running.

Jeffries is running uncontested for another term as caucus chairman, the No. 5 post.

With Clark vacating the vice chair post, a contested race has formed for the No. 6 slot. Pete Aguilar of California, Robin Kelly of Illinois and Deb Haaland of New Mexico are running.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairwoman Cheri Bustos has not said whether she plans to run for reelection to the No. 7 leadership position and likely will not make a decision until after the election. If she doesn’t run again, a contested race will likely occur.

The leadership of the DPCC, the caucus’s messaging arm, will be reconfigured with Cicilline’s departure as the so-called chair of chairs — four co-chairs will serve instead of one chair overseeing three co-chairs.

The current three co-chairs, Michigan’s Debbie Dingell, California’s Ted Lieu and Pennsylvania’s Matt Cartwright, are running for second terms. Colorado’s Joe Neguse, currently a freshman representatives to leadership, is so far the only other contender, meaning there is no contested race at present.

Three members are in a contested race for caucus leadership representative, a position reserved for members serving five or fewer terms: Brenda Lawrence of Michigan, Jason Crow of Colorado and Colin Allred of Texas.

Only members who have served for five or fewer terms get to vote for caucus leadership representative. Assuming they win reelection Nov. 3, Lawrence would be heading into her fourth term, while Crow and Allred would be going into their second.

There will also be an election for freshman leadership representative in which only incoming members get to vote. Candidates for this position will not be announced until after the election.

An exact date for committee chairmanship elections the week of Nov. 30 has not been set.

So far there are only two chairmanships that will definitely be open, Appropriations and Foreign Affairs.

Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey’s decision to retire at the end of this term has spurred a three-way competition to replace her among Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, Marcy Kaptur of Ohio and Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida.

Another three-way gavel race formed after Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot L. Engel lost his New York primary. Brad Sherman of California, Gregory W. Meeks of New York and Joaquin Castro of Texas are all seeking the chairmanship.

One other contest may emerge if Agriculture Chairman Collin C. Peterson loses his reelection bid in Minnesota. Peterson has struggled with fundraising this cycle and faces headwinds in a district President Donald Trump won by 30 points in 2016. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates his race Tilt Democratic.