Rep. Barbara Lee running for House Democratic Caucus Chair in historic bid

Rep. Barbara Lee (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images)

Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee of California has put in her bid and announced she will run for House Democratic Caucus chairwoman and if elected will become the first Black women to secure a top a leadership position in either major political party.

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“When you look at the history of the Democratic Party and the Democratic leadership, African-American women … we’ve been the backbone of the Democratic Party — we should be in the face of leadership also,’’ Lee told Politico.

Black women, she said, have proved they can “lead not only our communities, but lead our country, on the very tough issues facing us.”

Lee will reportedly run against California Democrat Linda Sánchez in the race for caucus chair. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Sanchez defeated Lee in 2016 for caucus vice chair, the party’s No. 5 House job, by two votes. Current chair Joe Crowley lost to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the primary in a major political upset

Congresswoman Barbara Lee is a Member of Congress from California’s 13th Congressional district. In 2001, she gained national attention as the only member of either chamber of Congress to vote against the Authorization for the Use of Military Force in the wake of the horrific events of September 11th.

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Last year, Lee introduced the “REPEAL HIV Discrimination Act 2017,” which would modernize laws and policies to eliminate discrimination against those living with HIV/AIDS.

Lee released a letter to her colleagues announcing her historic bid, writing:

Dear Colleague:

I am so inspired to fight alongside you as we work to win back the majority. There is nothing more important than returning bold Democratic leadership to Congress. With that in mind, I’m excited to announce that I am seeking the position of House Democratic Caucus Chair for the 116th Congress.

My candidacy is based on three deeply held beliefs.

The strength of our caucus lies in our diversity of experiences and ideas. Whether it’s working across the aisle to enact HIV/AIDS laws, or bringing the Sanders and Clinton campaigns together behind a cohesive and progressive Democratic Platform, my career has been dedicated to finding common ground and delivering results. Over the years, I have fought to lift families out of poverty and empower everyday people. As your Caucus Chair, I will ensure that we hear every view, respect every member, and welcome every voice.

Our caucus is at its best when everyone has an opportunity to contribute and collaborate. My top priority will be offering new ways to engage all members. I will provide robust member services to empower everyone in our caucus and develop more forums to showcase your innovative work. It is important to me to build on Chairman Crowley’s work equipping all offices with the cutting-edge, creative tools — and especially digital resources — to engage directly with constituents.

Our caucus has the talent and the vision to improve the lives of all people. We must shine a light on our greatest strengths: our members, our Democratic energy and compassion, and the agenda that reflects our collective vision.

I look forward to listening to your ideas, answering your questions and working to earn your vote. By putting people first, we will regain the majority and strengthen it for the future. It is an honor to fight this battle together.