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Barbara Lee is running for Dem Caucus vice chair

Rep. Barbara Lee has launched her campaign to become the House Democratic Caucus’ vice chairwoman, asking her peers for support.

Lee, D-Oakland, official threw her name into contention for House Democrats’ fifth-highest leadership post with a letter Tuesday; Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Lakewood, declared her candidacy for the post last month. Current vice chairman Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., is limited to two terms in the post, and Democrats are expected to pick a new chairman and vice chairman soon after November’s elections.

Barbara Lee (Dec-2010)“As Vice Chair, I will work to find innovative ways to champion the issues that are important to you, your district and our caucus,” Lee wrote in her letter to fellow House Democrats. “In 2013, I identified an opportunity to expand Democratic leadership on ending poverty in America. Together with our leadership, we launched the Democratic Whip Task Force on Poverty, Income Inequality and Opportunity which works for the more than 46 million Americans struggling to make ends meet while developing pathways for these families into the middle class.”

Lee also touted her work on the Appropriations, Budget and Steering and Policy committees, as well as her stints as chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, co-chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, executive board member of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and vice chairwoman and founding member of the LGBT Equality Caucus.

“In these roles, I have built diverse coalitions that advance our shared Democratic values,” she wrote. “Simultaneously, I have reached across the aisle to deliver bipartisan results, such as creating the bipartisan and bicameral HIV/AIDS Caucus and authoring or co-authoring every major piece of HIV/AIDS legislation signed into law since 1998. The importance of listening to others with different points of view and new ideas has been critical in these and many other efforts.”

“It is an honor to work with you, side by side, to further our shared values and fight to ensure opportunity for all. I know firsthand the depth of your passion, talent and experience. It is this diversity of experience that is the backbone of our caucus,” she concluded. “I hope to serve you as the next Vice Chair and I look forward to continuing our discussions.”

Lee, 69, was first elected to the House in a 1998 special election to replace her mentor and longtime employer, Rep. Ron Dellums of Oakland, who retired mid-term. Earlier, she served in the state Senate from 1997 to 1998, and in the Assembly from 1991 to 1997.

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Barbara Lee drops House Dems leadership bid

Rep. Barbara Lee this morning withdrew her name from the running for vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus.

Lee, D-Oakland, asked her fellow House Democrats to unify around Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., for the job instead.

Barbara Lee (Dec-2010)“My goal in seeking the position was to provide a broader voice to our Democratic agenda. We fight each and every day for the middle class because without a middle class there would be no American dream to reignite. However, like so many in our Caucus, we also want to fight for those aspiring for and striving to be in the middle class and our message, legislative agenda and politics must reflect this reality,” Lee said in a written statement.

“With nearly 50 million people living in poverty, of whom 16 million are children, we must recognize that it is in our nation’s best interest both morally and economically to develop policies to at least cut poverty in half in the next 10 years,” she said. “This should be part of our Caucus agenda as we work to create ladders of opportunity and remove obstacles to reigniting the American dream for all.”

Lee noted the Democratic Caucus is the most diverse in the nation’s history. “This is our strength and we must build on this as we work to take back the House. This diversity, which brings a diversity of ideas, should be seriously reflected in our leadership, our leadership decisions and our overall agenda.”

The House Democratic Caucus has been chaired in the soon-to-end 112th Congress by Rep. John Larson, D-Conn.; the vice chairman has been Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles. The new 113th Congress starts at noon on Thursday, Jan. 3.