Earlier in the week I had a disturbing phone call with a very old friend, a member of Congress who Blue America stepped in to help many years ago before there were so many progressive groups in the field. At the time, she was running for an open seat and the Democratic establishment was united in its support for her corrupt conservative opponent— as is their wont. I had called her this week because I heard she was campaigning for Hakeem Jeffries to be Democratic House leader. I was astounded, since she is a full-on progressive. So I wanted to ask her what she’s thinking. She reacted with anger. In all these years it was the first time I had ever seen that side of her.
She made 2 points: it was none of my business and it was a “forgone conclusion” that was already “set in stone.” I wanted to ask her if it was also none of my business when Blue America was the only group to support her against a corrupt conservative exactly like Jeffries when the forgone conclusion set in stone was that he was the next Representative from their district, not her. But she was too pissed off for me to go there. Nearly all the people I know in Congress— not all, nearly all— say they’re backing Jeffries. When I ask why, they all say it’s “a done deal.”
Well, God forbid going up against a “done deal!” Writing for the Wall Street Journal this morning— and “after interviewing more than two dozen lawmakers and aides”— Natalie Andrews played it cool about the leadership battle. She wrote that she has the sense that Democrats expect the party’s top three leaders— octogenarians Pelosi, Hoyer and Clyburn, each afflicted with “essential man syndrome”— to step aside if their party loses the majority in the midterms. I think the Democrats have a 50-50 chance of retaining their majority in November, primarily because of so many hideous MAGA candidates (like J.R. Majewski) in otherwise winnable races, sometimes in very red districts.
New Jersey Blue Dog Mikie Sherrill told Andrews that “It’s time that we really in the Democratic Party start thinking about what our future leadership looks like,” adding that she’s like to see Pelosi, Hoyer and Clybirn replaced. As everyone in Congress and in DC politics is well-aware, if Pelosi steps aside, “
If Mrs. Pelosi steps aside, waiting in the wings to vie for the top position are Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries of New York and Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff of California. Both have been holding meetings and dinners with colleagues, testing their support, according to multiple lawmakers and aides.”
Ironically, Jeffries is a member of the Progressive Caucus, but a progressive-hater who started a PAC with Blue Dog Josh Gottheimer to defeat progressive candidates; while Schiff, a New Dem who quit the Blue Dogs, has been voting more and more progressively over the past couple of years. Jeffries, who is running on a “first Black Speaker” platform epitomizes congressional corruption— being equally owned by Wall Street and AIPAC— while Schiff is a seriously non-corrupt lawmaker.
When Andrews spoke to Jeffries for the story, he flat out lied to her face, something she probably expected. “My sole focus right now is making sure that Democrats maintain the majority in the House, because the stakes are incredibly high.”
Pelosi brushed off questions about her future, saying she’d declare her intentions after the election. “First we win, then we decide,” she told reporters last week.
If Democrats keep the majority, some Democrats said Pelosi would have a case for another term. She is widely respected by her caucus and had raised $233 million in this election cycle for Democrats as of the end of the second quarter. This term, she has navigated several big bills to passage despite disagreements between the different wings of her parties on issues including climate policy and drug pricing.
“Let’s wait to see how the elections shake out. She’s done a remarkable, remarkable job, and if she wants the job back, she probably is going to get it,” said Rep. Scott Peters (corrupt and reactionary New Dem-CA).
Clyburn, 82, has said he sees himself staying in a leadership role after the election, though he hasn’t said he would want to keep his current position, telling NBC earlier this month that “it may be just advisory.”
Clyburn thinks he can control Jeffries but may be in for a rude awakening if Jeffries wins the top position.
Straight-faced, Andrews wrote that Jeffries “has at times clashed with the party’s most progressive members and launched the Team Blue PAC, which protects Democrats from primary challengers… He is seen as running as part of an informal slate, with Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA), now the assistant speaker, and Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA), the vice chairman of the caucus [and a coke freak], likely running for the No. 2 and No. 3 positions.
But even as reliable and incorruptable a progressive as Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) has said he would back Jeffries “if Pelosi doesn’t run. He understands the Democratic Party.”
Schiff would be an underdog for the top spot. Still, he has been talking to fellow California lawmakers to make his pitch on the advantages of someone from the Golden State representing its large delegation, most of whom are Democrats.
The five-term Democrat has national name recognition, thanks to his leading role in then-President Donald Trump’s first impeachment in 2019, and is a capable fundraiser and sought-after keynote speaker for vulnerable members and candidates. Republicans are also expected to remove him from the Intelligence Committee should they win the House, and other lawmakers note that is motivating him to find a new perch, whether in Congress or elsewhere.
“He’s the one white guy who could pull it off,” said one Democratic lawmaker of a Schiff speaker bid.
Others pitched a different position.
“I respect Adam and I love Adam and I’d love to see him as a senator from California,” said Rep. Jimmy Panetta [corrupt New Dem sleazebag-CA], who said he had met with Schiff.