Democrats appear to have chosen New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries to replace Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It is perhaps a historic event to elect the first black person to head a part of Congress.
After Pelosi announced her retirement on Thursday, the spokeswoman declined to say who she would endorse as her successor for the Nov. 30 race.
However, in an indication of Jeffries’ apparent influence, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Majority Leader Jim Clyburn backed him following their resignation announcements from their posts.
“Speaker Pelosi has left an indelible mark on Congress and the country, and I look forward to her continued service and doing whatever I can to assist our new generation Democratic leaders, which I hope to be Hakeem Jeffries, Katherine Clark, and Peter Aguilar,” Clyburn said.
Moreover, Hoyer stated that Jeffries “will make history for the institution of the House and for the country.”
The 52-year-old New York Democrat will represent a major change from the current trio of House Democratic leaders. They will succeed those who are 30 years older than them.
Jeffries was the leader of the 2019 Democratic Caucus. He was the youngest member to hold the role of leader.
When asked when he’d officially break the news of his run for leader, Jeffries stated: “Let’s spend the day at this moment continuing to process the historic nature of Speaker Pelosi and the opportunity that we’ve all had to serve with her.”
“It’s been an amazing experience,” he continued. “This is a moment right now to continue to celebrate Speaker Pelosi.”
Additionally, the House of Democratic caucus appears to support Jeffries.
Jeffries Support System
Prior to Pelosi’s announcement, Ohio Rep. Joyce Beatty said in an interview with CNN that she expected caucus support for Jeffries. Beatty is the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.
“If she steps aside, I’m very clear that Hakeem Jeffries is the person that I will be voting for and leading the Congressional Black Caucus to vote for,” Beatty stated.
“I don’t always speak for everybody, but I’m very comfortable saying I believe that every member of the Congressional Black Caucus would vote for Hakeem Jeffries.”
G.K. Butterfield, retiring North Carolina Representative and former CBC chairman, shared with CNN that Jeffries “is prepared for the moment.” This is if Pelosi relinquished her post. Butterfield told CNN he expected Jeffries to run.
Over the past few months, Democrats have anticipated Pelosi’s possible step down from Congress would open the door for Jeffries.
Jeffries graduated from the State University of New York at Binghamton, Georgetown. He then proceeded to his law degree at New York University Law School. And in 2006, he was elected to the New York State Assembly.
Since then, he has served New York’s 8th District. During Trump’s time, Jeffries led the passing of the bipartisan criminal justice overhaul bill or the First Step Act.
A few House Democrats have stood for the moment of Pelosi’s step down. She gained the speaker’s gavel following the 2006 elections, then lost it following the 2010 elections. But after the 2018 elections, she won it again.
“She’s a historic speaker who’s accomplished an incredible amount, but I also think there are a lot of Democrats ready for a new chapter,” Massachusetts Representative Seth Moulton said.
Opinions expressed by Artist Weekly contributors are their own.