CONGRESS | Rep. Barbara Lee dropped her bid Wednesday for one of the top leadership positions in the House Democratic Party delegation, but the attempt may indicate a desire by the long-time Oakland congresswoman for a greater role in the future.
Lee’s withdrawal leaves New York Rep. Joe Crowley as the likely vice chair of the party in the House, its fifth-highest ranking official. Notwithstanding, Carolyn Lochhead of the San Francisco Chronicle noted yesterday, “Getting into a leadership race signals ambition.”
“My goal in seeking the position was to provide a broader voice to our Democratic agenda,” Lee said Wednesday in a statement. “We fight each and every day for the middle class because without a middle class there would be no American dream to reignite. However, like so many in our Caucus, we also want to fight for those aspiring for and striving to be in the middle class and our message, legislative agenda and politics must reflect this reality.”
However, the reality may have been Lee realized she did not have the votes needed to beat the more moderate Crowley before stepping aside.
If Lee’s ambition is to eventually take on a more public face for the Democratic Party, she and others in the House will have to deal with the current glut atop its leadership. The race for vice chair was already the only leadership slot set to be contested. Colorado Rep. Jared Polis also dropped out a week earlier.
As noted by Roll Call this week, the four members leading House Democrats are quite entrenched while two others appear to be formidable young prospects waiting in the wings. Going forward, its unclear where Lee stands in the pecking order over the next few terms.