U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries formally launched his bid for House Democratic leader on Friday. His announcement came just one day after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that she will step down from her role, ending a two-decade run as the top House Democrat. If elected by his Democratic peers, Jeffries would make history as the first Black person to lead a party in Congress.
“The House Democratic Caucus is the most authentic representation of the gorgeous mosaic of the American people,” Jeffries wrote in a letter to colleagues asking for support, according to PBS News. “I write to humbly ask for your support for the position of House Democratic Leader as we once again prepare to meet the moment.”
Later this month, Jeffries, who is currently the head of the House Democratic Caucus, is expected to run unopposed for House minority leader. The Brooklyn native has served five terms in the 8th Congressional District of New York.
Jeffries, who is 52 years old and three decades younger than Pelosi, would represent a new generation of leadership in the House. In 2019, he was elected Democratic caucus chairman, making him the youngest member serving in leadership.
In addition to Pelosi, the other two top House Democrats, Reps. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the majority leader and Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, the majority whip, also declared their intention to leave their positions as leaders. They are all in their eighties.
Pelosi endorsed the new group of leaders who are anticipated to succeed them: Jeffries, Massachusetts Rep. Katherine Clark, and California Rep. Peter Aguilar. On November 30, there will be a leadership vote for the House Democrats.
“For me, the hour has come for a new generation to lead the Democratic Congress that I so deeply respect,” Pelosi said. “And I am grateful that so many are ready and willing to shoulder this awesome responsibility,” the current speaker said in a Thursday speech on the House floor.
Although Jeffries praised past leadership in his letter on Friday, he also emphasized that “more must be done to combat inflation, defend our democracy, secure reproductive freedom, welcome new Americans, promote equal protection under the law, and improve public safety throughout this country.”
The Democratic leadership election will take place on November 30.