Hakeem Jeffries launches bid to replace Nancy Pelosi as lead House Democrat

Jeffries, 52, satisfies the demand of many House Democrats that younger blood replaces the 82-year-old Nancy Pelosi.

 US House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) speaks during a news conference following a House Democratic Caucus meeting at the US Capitol in Washington, November 2, 2021 (photo credit: EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/REUTERS)
US House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) speaks during a news conference following a House Democratic Caucus meeting at the US Capitol in Washington, November 2, 2021
(photo credit: EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/REUTERS)

US lawmaker Hakeem Jeffries launched a bid on Friday to become Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, a day after the chamber's speaker, Nancy Pelosi, announced she was stepping down from their party leadership role.

Jeffries, 52, would be the first Black House Democratic leader, representing both the party's diverse voter base and a new generation of leadership.

Jeffries announced his bid in a letter released by his office, saying: "I write to humbly ask for your support for the position of House Democratic leader as we once again prepare to meet the moment."

Jeffries satisfies the demand of many House Democrats that younger blood replaces the 82-year-old Pelosi, who has had a grip on leadership for the past two decades.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announces that she will remain in Congress but will not run for re-election as Speaker after Republicans were projected to win control of the House of Representatives, on the floor of the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, US, November 17, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/EVELYN HOCKSTEIN)US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announces that she will remain in Congress but will not run for re-election as Speaker after Republicans were projected to win control of the House of Representatives, on the floor of the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, US, November 17, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/EVELYN HOCKSTEIN)

Pelosi promptly issued a statement in support of Jeffries and two other Democrats seeking leadership positions.

As minority leader, Jeffries' main task will be deciding when to cooperate with Republicans to pass bills such as funding the government and when to defend the agenda of US President Joe Biden, a fellow Democrat.

Who is New York Democrat Hakeem Jeffries?

Jeffries was first elected to Congress in 2012, having previously served in the New York state legislature, where he worked on affordable housing issues and fought against some policing practices, such as "stop and frisk."

Jeffries helped lead the fight in the US House for legislation criminalizing police "choke holds" and other controversial tactics following George Floyd's murder in 2020 by Minneapolis police.

Jeffries also led a bipartisan effort at criminal justice reform, which led to the 2018 passage of legislation restructuring sentencing procedures for certain drug offenses and increasing educational and vocational funding for prisoners to help reduce repeat-offender rates.

If, as expected, Jeffries wins the November 30 leadership election, Democrats will be placing party power squarely with New Yorkers. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer represents the state of New York and Jeffries is based in New York City, representing parts of Brooklyn, including the historically Black neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant.