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.
Pelosi promptly issued a statement in support of Jeffries and two other Democrats seeking leadership positions.
Now, the hour has come for a new generation to lead the Democratic Caucus that I so deeply respect.I am grateful that so many are ready and willing to shoulder this awesome responsibility. pic.twitter.com/KDrCt5tptz— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) November 17, 2022
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.