Rep. Linda Sánchez is running for Democratic Caucus chair, officially announcing her plans Tuesday in a Dear Colleague letter Tuesday to House Democrats.
The California Democrat currently is vice chairwoman of the caucus. She is looking to move up now that Democratic Caucus Chairman Joseph Crowley of New York lost his primary and thus won’t be running for leadership again.
“It has been an honor to work with Chairman Crowley to ensure that the Caucus is responsive to the needs of every member,” Sánchez said in her letter. “I am encouraged by the conversations I have had with many members about continuing that work, and I am pleased to announce that I will run for House Democratic Caucus Chair for the 116th Congress.”
Crowley issued a statement Tuesday seemingly endorsing Sanchez to succeed him.
“Linda Sánchez is a dear friend, a battle-tested member, and a fierce advocate for working families,” he said. “As my partner in leading the House Democratic Caucus, Linda has helped expand the caucus’ outreach and services for our members and has been an insightful voice in developing strategy and messaging. She is an extremely valuable part of the Democratic leadership team and has a bright future in our caucus.”
Sanchez is the first lawmaker of either party to formally announce a campaign for a leadership position. The Democratic Caucus is expected to hold leadership elections sometime after Thanksgiving.
More than a dozen House Democrats are considering running for leadership, although few have specified specific positions of interest.
Two other California Democrats, Reps. Barbara Lee and Eric Swalwell, have also expressed interest in running for caucus chair. Lee ran against Sánchez for vice chair in 2016 and lost by just two votes.
Several House Democrats have said they don’t want to think about leadership elections while they’re focused on taking back the House in November, but Sánchez made the case for why she’s announcing her bid now.
“If the American people instill their trust in House Democrats, we must show them that we are ready to lead on the first day,” she said. “A new Congress gives us the opportunity to take a full assessment of what changes we need to make to ensure our success going forward. However, it is clear that if we wait until next year to have these discussions it will be too late. We must prepare now.”
Sánchez raised eyebrows last year when she openly called for a generational change in leadership. She stood by that position last week in a conversation with reporters.
“There is a real breadth and depth of talent in our caucus. And I do think that having the top three leadership of the same generation, I think it’s time for that generational change,” she said. “And whether there’s transition or not remains to be seen. I want to be part of that transition because I don’t intend to stay in Congress until I’m in my 70s.”
In her letter to House Democrats, Sánchez noted that she is glad they’ve started conversations about how the caucus should function to increase opportunities for all members. She welcomed her colleagues to share ideas with her along those lines.
“Leadership is about serving others, not serving yourself,” Sánchez said. “As caucus chair, I will continue to work collaboratively and inclusively to utilize the full range of talent on our team. I am committed to doing everything I can to put the Democratic Caucus in the strongest position as we fight to take back the majority and maintain it for years to come.”