A New Democrat Frontrunner Takes Center Stage

With one notable exception, the looming leadership contest between House Democrats’ top three candidates is basically stuck in place as they campaign for reelection.

The Unexpected Frontrunner

As per more than 15 members and aides, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) is ramping up calls to her peers about running for a caucus-wide post next year.

Her attitude contrasts sharply with the other dozen or so liberals quietly pursuing leadership positions after the midterm elections. All of them have avoided any overt lobbying that may be viewed as breaching their long-serving leaders.

Jayapal has even given some in the assembly the notion that she would run against Katherine Clark (D-Massachusetts), a liberal ally.

Reps. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) and David Scott (D-Ga.) have made calls on her account to help rally support for the third-term legislator.

Several of her allies thought the Congressional Progressive Caucus leader was laying the basis for a caucus-wide bid this year by using the strength of her liberal bloc in highly visible ways.

With the House majority on the line, most members of the caucus believe open bickering over an unclear leadership position is unproductive.

“If you’re thinking of running, the last things you want to do right now would be upsetting the boat. We all have to be focused on 2022,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.).

Nancy’s Job Lies in the Balance

This autumn, House Democrats may pick someone besides Speaker Nancy Pelosi to represent them for the first period in 19 years.

Pelosi and her two senior officers, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, as well as House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, have remained solidly in the present. This leaves no room for the public jockeying that occurs even weeks before a leadership election.

Although there is always talk among Democrats, they stress they are far more concentrated on their big legislative agenda.

This includes government financing, a large-scale industrial development bill, and maybe a response to Russia’s aggressiveness abroad.

When questioned about future leadership elections, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) remarked, “If it is a topic of discussion, it is absolutely sotto voce.”

“It’s just not a topic that comes up in my circles. It will happen eventually, but not right now,” Connolly went on to say.

“We need to begin talking up the economy, our achievements, and changing the dynamic in time for the midterm elections. Anything else may be dealt with later.”

It’s unclear whose leadership positions will be available next year. In 2018, Pelosi assured her caucus she would only seek for two further terms as speaker; although Hoyer and Clyburn also weren’t constrained by the same restrictions.

None of them have officially announced if they want to seek reelection to their leader posts in 2023 if respective districts elect them to another term, as is anticipated.