Jayapal’s early leadership maneuvers raise eyebrows

Washington DC: As House Democrats’ top trio seeks reelection; their looming leadership battle is essentially frozen in place — with one big exception.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) is stepping up calls to her colleagues about seeking a caucus-wide position next year, according to more than 15 lawmakers and aides. Her approach is a stark contrast with the other dozen or so Democrats privately eyeing leadership posts after the midterms, all of whom have avoided overt campaigning of any kind that might risk being seen as overstepping their longtime leaders.

Jayapal has even left some in the caucus with the impression that she could challenge Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), a fellow member of the progressive wing. The third-term lawmaker has tapped two allies to help muster support, having Reps. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) and David Scott (D-Ga.) make calls on her behalf.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus chief has leveraged the power of her liberal bloc in highly public ways this year, which several of her colleagues speculated could be laying the groundwork for a caucus-wide run.

Most in the caucus view open jostling over an undefined leadership spot as counterproductive with the House majority at stake. “The last thing you want, if you are a person that is thinking about running, is to rock the boat right now. Because we all need to be concentrated on 2022,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), a Progressive Caucus member who declined to comment specifically on Jayapal’s interest in leadership.

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