In late 2018, after Democrats reclaimed control of the House, then-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) reached an informal deal with dissenters against her continued leadership that saw her agree to limit herself to just two more terms as head of the House Democratic Caucus.
With that self-imposed timeline now about to expire, reports indicate that a potential battle is brewing among House Democrats over who will replace her as the top leader — if she even abides by the informal agreement and steps aside at all, the Conservative Brief reported.
The top contender and most likely successor appears to be Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), but also making a bid is close Pelosi ally Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). Also in the mix, albeit to a lesser extent, are House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC).
Jeffries likely to replace Pelosi
Politico reported this week that, back in September, Rep. Jeffries quietly met with Rep. Clyburn to discuss his plans to take over for Speaker Pelosi — assuming she steps aside — and to ensure that Clyburn wasn’t also running, as well as to secure his support and that of the Congressional Black Caucus that Clyburn holds substantial sway over.
The outlet noted that Jeffries needn’t have worried, as Clyburn just said in a recent interview, “There’s nothing I would ever do to impede the progress of our up-and-coming young Democrats and I see him as an up-and-coming young Democrat,” and added of Jeffries, “He knows that, I didn’t have to tell him that — but I did.”
As to whether he would serve as a sort of senior advisor for the younger new leader, the South Carolina congressman said that he was “willing to do anything the caucus thinks is to their benefit” and that Jeffries already had “referred to me as a mentor.”
Schiff making moves
Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported in July that Rep. Schiff was quietly making overtures to his fellow California Democrats and members of the various Democratic caucus groups to gauge support for his bid to succeed Speaker Pelosi as the top leader of House Democrats.
The Post noted at that time that the response Schiff had received was “tepid” for the most part, and it doesn’t look like his prospects have improved much over the intervening months, as Politico reported that Schiff was being mocked and dismissed behind his back by some of the colleagues that he had reached out to for support.
And, again, this is all contingent on Pelosi actually following through on her word and either retiring or stepping aside from leadership after the midterm elections, which is likely but not a given.
Pelosi likely gone regardless of election outcome
CNN reported in September, however, that whether it happened voluntarily or at the insistence of her caucus, Speaker Pelosi will almost certainly not be the leader of House Democrats in the next term, regardless of if the party wins or loses their congressional majority.
Few House Democrats will publicly express their opposition to Pelosi’s continued leadership, but it has been made clear in anonymous quotes and off-the-record interviews that a substantial portion of the House Democratic Caucus believes that it is time for a “generational change” in the party’s leadership.
All of that said, if Republicans gain back majority control of the House in the midterm elections, as is widely anticipated, then Pelosi will be done and out and Jeffries will most likely replace her as the top Democrat in the House.