Yesterday, Politico ran a hit piece on Pramila Jayapal, likely initiated not by Republicans but by No Labels and the anti-progressive PAC (Team Blue), run jointly by two corrupt establishment Democrats in the House, careerists Hakeem Jeffries (NY) and Pete Aguilar (CA), who see themselves as the natural heirs of Pelosi and Hoyer. And if the trajectory of the Democratic House conference is sharply downward, then they are the natural heirs.
Sarah Ferris wrote, falsely, that no one is "campaigning" for post-Pelosi/Hoyer/Clyburn leadership positions except Pramila. What a sack of crap! Maybe Ferris should have written no policy-oriented women of color are campaigning except Pramila. A whole lot of narcissists and careerists sure are-- starting with Hakeem Jeffries and Pete Aguilar, but hardly ending with the two of them. Ferris should face it-- whether she knew it or not-- her Politico hit piece itself was part of their campaign! Ferris wrote that Pramila "is stepping up calls to her colleagues about seeking a caucus-wide position next year, according to more than 15 lawmakers and aides. Her approach is a stark contrast with the other dozen or so Democrats privately eyeing leadership posts after the midterms, all of whom have avoided overt campaigning of any kind that might risk being seen as overstepping their longtime leaders." What a joke!
New Dem Gerry Connolly told Ferris that "If it is a topic of conversation, it is extremely sotto voce. It's just not a type of conversation in my circles. It will be someday, but not now. People are focused on-- got to start talking up the economy, our accomplishments and turning around the dynamic for the midterms. And we can worry about everything else later."
Members who I spoke to yesterday agreed that Democratic members should be having a real conversation about what the leadership should look like and what skills are needed." As you may know, Blue America endorsed Pramila when she was still a state senator in Seattle and one of the top reasons we wanted her was because of her demonstrated legislative skills and her ability to work across the aisle without ever selling her constituents down the river. Jeffries and especially Aguilar, a coke freak, have no legislative skills that anyone has ever seen. They both have the same skill, collecting corrupt cash from special interests. I can think of a leadership dream team that includes neither Jeffries nor Aguilar.
Clyburn's office said in a statement that the whip "supports Nancy Pelosi if she seeks the Speakership again." Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff Drew Hammill said that "the speaker is not on a shift; she’s on a mission.” Hoyer’s communications director Margaret Mulkerrin said in a statement that “Leader Hoyer remains laser focused on getting our work done for the American people and maintaining our Democratic Majority,” noting Biden’s domestic policy bill, voting rights, funding the government and the anti-China bill.
But many Democrats stress that this year’s election is different. And for those who do want to seek a leadership position in the coming months, it’s a complicated decision about how to launch a campaign. Sometimes members vow their support to their first colleague who asks, but they could also risk being seen as being premature.
“This is a tug of war of respect, and the speaker's own philosophy that power isn’t earned, it’s seized,” one Democratic lawmaker said, speaking candidly about the future races on condition of anonymity-- and paraphrasing a lesson that Pelosi has said she learned from her father.
As some lawmakers wrestle with the right way to launch their candidacies, they say Jayapal and her allies have struggled to read the room, approaching colleagues about a leadership post with such a brutal midterm ahead.
“It’s too early to focus on that,” Rep. Josh Gottheimer (Blue Dog-NJ) said when asked about the outreach.
Several Democrats added that emotions are still raw over Jayapal's hardline strategy this summer, when her liberal group successfully blocked the infrastructure bill for months to win concessions from centrists on Biden’s broader policy bill.
Pramila, who would be the first woman of color in a top three leadership position, has worked a lot harder and in a more focussed way than Jefferies, let alone Aguilar, when it came to passing Biden's agenda. And as her own office said, she "is focused on delivering for the people each and every day as an advocate for progressive policies in Congress. As is common at this point in the cycle, she is considering how that could translate to a role in leadership, but has not made any decisions. That decision will also be informed by the plans of her valued colleagues in the current leadership." Anyone who wasn't asleep knows that it was progressives who have continually fought for and held up the presidents agenda, so it’s asinine for Ferris and some conservatives like Gottheimer, probably the Houses' most disliked Democrat in the conference, to blame progressives for anything. Everyone knows that if conservative Democrats didn’t hold up Build Back Better-- including Gottheimer-- members would be out delivering for people right now instead of wallowing in self-pity.
I was impressed to watch Pramila not just rally progressives but bring along front-liners across the caucus spectrum, especially on key priorities like lowering the cost of prescription drugs and expanding Medicare to cover teeth, eyes and ears. And Jeffries and Aguilar? They're good at collecting special interest cash and spreading poison to the media about more productive colleagues.
Pramila serves on the Budget Committee and the chair of that committee, John Yarmouth, told Politico that "In the final analysis she was very effective [during the Build Back Better negotiations]. I believe she stood her ground... She was ultimately willing to make the right concessions and, and bring her people along."
Another senior Capitol Hill source who asked not to be identified told me she wouldn't hesitate to vote for Pramila-- even if Pelosi, Hoyer and Clyburn decide to try to "cling to their positions 'til their combined age is 300"-- and that "This was clearly a hit piece on Rep. Jayapal. There are some elements on Capitol Hill that would like nothing more than to keep her from gaining any influence."