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.


DNC: Honda’s replacement was ‘amicable’

Rep. Mike Honda’s replacement as vice chair of the Democratic National Committee this week was “all amicable,” a DNC spokesman told me today, hinting the South Bay Congressman can expect support even as a well-funded Democratic challenger might be emerging.

“His service to the president and the party won’t go unrecognized in the future,” DNC Communications Director Brad Woodhouse said.

I’d written an item Tuesday about the DNC’s officer elections, linked to an article about contention over who would serve as secretary. DNC sources had told me that day that Honda, D-San Jose, had hoped to continue on as one of the party’s vice chairs, but that he withdrew from contention when he saw the writing on the wall; freshman Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii – whom Honda was helping raise campaign funds just months ago – now holds the post instead.

But Woodhouse said today that whether or not Honda initially had hoped to stay on, “by everything I’ve been told and everything I’ve observed … he was amenable, he was supportive” of the change.

“He was so terrific in this role, he was so terrific as a vice chair and representing the AAPI (Asian American/Pacific Islander) community,” Woodhouse said. “That’s going to be recognized. … He’s a key ally of the party and of the president.”

Such recognition and support could become crucial if Honda seeks another term. As I’d reported Monday, rumors abound that Ro Khanna – the former Obama Administration Commerce Department official who raised an eye-popping $1.2 million in the last quarter of 2011, but chose not to challenge Rep. Pete Stark in 2012 – may choose to run against Honda in the 17th District in 2014.

Khanna wouldn’t confirm this Monday, saying he’s still considering all his options, but the allure of running in the continental United States’ first majority AAPI district – from which Khanna derived much of his campaign war chest – must be significant. Khanna’s donor list also included some notable national Democratic donors, a sign of the strong network he has built over the past several years, but given Woodhouse’s words today it’ll be interesting to see how and whether the DNC brings pressure to bear should he challenge Honda.


Mike Honda is no longer a DNC vice chair

After a more-contentious-than-usual election of the Democratic National Committee’s officers, Rep. Mike Honda is no longer a vice-chairman.

The LA Times has a good report on how “chaos reigned for a time as DNC members balked at rubber-stamping a White House-approved list of replacements for several veterans of the pre-Obama era.”

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., won another term as chairwoman of the national party as expected, but some lower-level offices changed hands. DNC sources tell me Honda, D-San Jose, had wanted to stay on as one of the vice-chairs but stepped aside when he saw the writing on the wall, and freshman Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii – whom Honda was helping raise campaign funds just months ago – now holds the post instead.

“The honor and distinct pleasure of serving for nine years in DNC leadership, at the request of the President and the Democratic Party, is one that I am now thrilled to see bestowed on an increasingly diverse Democratic National Committee helm,” Honda said by email this afternoon.

“Having pounded the political pavement for the President and the Party in over 35 states, I step down as vice-chair deeply satisfied with the diversity of color and creed that has entered our ranks,” he added. “As DNC leaders, we accomplished a great deal in this last decade, leaving Congress, and the White House, more diverse than ever before. The new Democratic leadership aptly reflects the new America and I look forward to working with them, as ardently as ever, to champion and campaign our democratic cause.”


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.


Today’s Congressional odds and ends

Lofgren takes Ethics Committee chair: The House Democratic Caucus today approved Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, as chair of the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, had announced Lofgren’s nomination earlier this week. Pelosi had said Lofgren “has demonstrated tremendous leadership in her 15 years of service” in the House, including eight years on the ethics panel — a perfect leader to take the chair as House Democrats try to deliver on promises of accountability, honesty, and openness. Said Lofgren: “The American people deserve a Congress that holds their interest above all others. I pledge to work in a bipartisan manner to ensure that the House of Representatives maintains the highest of ethical standards and holds the public interest above all.” Lofgren spokesman Pedro Ribeiro said Lofgren will retain her influential post as chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law, as well as her Homeland Security Committee membership.

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