Cicilline Drops out of Assistant Democratic Leader Race

Rhode Island rep says he’ll instead run for new position in caucus’ messaging committee

Democratic Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island said he is dropping out of the race for assistant leader in deference to Rep. Ben Ray Luján, who helped marshall the party’s takeover of the House in his role as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline is dropping out of the assistant Democratic leader race to run for a new leadership position on the caucus’ messaging committee.

Cicilline sent a letter to colleagues Wednesday saying he is running to be chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, a position that Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi suggested in a letter Tuesday night that the caucus create.

The role would apparently be a higher ranking post than three elected DPCC co-chair positions that were created in 2016 to expand the role of the caucus’ messaging arm. Cicilline has served as one of the co-chairs this Congress.

Cicilline acknowledged he is dropping his bid for assistant leader in deference to his opponent, outgoing Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ChairmanBen Ray Luján.

“Like many of you, I believe that Chairman Lujan deserves a place at the leadership table after helping usher in our historic Democratic victory,” Cicilline said in his letter to colleagues. “Since Chairman Lujan entered the race, I have been asking myself how I can continue to effectively contribute to the Democratic Caucus in an elected leadership position, while recognizing Chairman Lujan’s critical role in our success.”

Pelosi’s suggestion of creating the DPCC chair role seems to be designed to provide Cicilline with a landing spot, given his quick decision to declare a bid for the role without the caucus having approved it yet.

The caucus would likely need to take a vote to officially establish the position before Cicilline or any other candidate who decides to run for it can be elected. With the House in recess until Nov. 27, that action would likely occur the same day as the caucus holds its leadership elections, Nov. 28

With only Luján left in the assistant leader race, the top four Democratic leadership positions are all uncontested.

Watch: Pelosi Talks Midterm ‘Wave,’ Says She Has Votes for Speakership

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.