Hakeem Jeffries officially declares candidacy to succeed Nancy Pelosi as House Democratic leader

House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries, the New York representative who is widely expected to succeed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as leader of the House Democrats next year, officially threw his hat into the ring on Friday for the upcoming Democratic leadership elections taking place on 30 November.

In a letter to incoming Democratic members of the 118th Congress, Mr Jeffries said he was “humbly” asking his colleagues for support as they “once again prepare to meet the moment” when the 118th Congress convenes on 3 January 2023.

The Brooklyn Democrat, who has served in the House since 2013, said he had shouldered an “extraordinary responsibility” over the three years since he took over the chairmanship of the Democratic Caucus in 2019, describing his time in that post as “a time of significant turbulence and legislative accomplishment”.

“The Beltway skeptics claimed we were in disarray. Instead, we united time and again with one of the narrowest legislative margins in American history to get big things done For The People,” he wrote. “Building upon this track record of leadership experience and collective success, I now look to the future. In doing so, I am thankful for the invaluable opportunity I have had to learn from legendary figures like our iconic Speaker Nancy Pelosi, our resolute Leader Steny Hoyer and our historic Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, who has mentored and nurtured my leadership development from the moment I arrived in Congress”.

Mr Jeffries said his candidacy to lead the House Democrats next year is built around “three operating principles” — empowering every member of the caucus, providing security for each member in “an era of unprecedented extremism, disinformation and political violence that threatens our ability to serve the public without fear or favour,” and ultimately reclaiming the House majority in the November 2024 general election.

“It is my hope that we can find common ground where possible with our Republican colleagues in order to deliver results for the American people. At the same time, the opposing party appears to have no plan to accomplish anything meaningful,” he said. “If the Republican Conference continues to major in demagoguery and minor in disinformation, their bankruptcy of ideas must be aggressively exposed on an ongoing basis. I have done that work and, if necessary, will continue to do that work should I be given the opportunity”.

He added that he hopes to lead the caucus in “an effort that centers our communication strategy around the messaging principle that values unite, issues divide” and said Democrats must ensure that voters perception of the party “matches up with the reality that we do in fact authentically share values that unite the Heartland, Urban America, Rural America, Suburban America and Small Town America”.

Mr Jeffries is widely expected to win a majority of votes to be the next House Minority Leader when Democrats elect their caucus leaders later this month. Several of the outgoing leadership team members have endorsed a prospective slate consisting of him as leader, Massachusetts Representative Katherine Clark as Minority Whip, and California Representative Pete Aguilar as Mr Jeffries’ successor as caucus chair.