05/28/2024

Despite recent chatter that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is considering a run for reelection, she’s still widely expected to cede the top spot among House Democrats to another member of her party in the next Congress, especially if Republicans take back the chamber as many expect.

If she does step aside, Pelosi would cap a remarkable 20-year run as the top Democrat in the House of Representatives – and leave a major power vacuum for her party to fill.

Here are some of the top options Democrats have if Pelosi’s time in Congress is indeed coming to a close.

Hakeem Jeffries

Jeffries, D-N.Y., the House Democratic Caucus chairman, represents a major Democratic power center in New York City – just as Pelosi represents a similar stronghold in San Francisco.

At 51, Jeffries would inject a relative element of youth into a Democratic leadership that includes three octogenarians at the top. He also brings to the table experience in a leadership position that some others don’t have, strong support from many in the party establishment, and respect from even some Republicans. Jeffries was also an impeachment manager for former President Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial.

But in a House Democratic caucus that’s become increasingly progressive in recent years, Jeffries could very well face a challenge from his left flank.

Hoyer or Clyburn

By the current leadership chart, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., is technically the first in line to replace Pelosi, and House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., is second.

Both command immense respect in Democratic circles. Clyburn is widely credited with helping President Biden pull off a massive comeback in the 2020 Democratic primary after dismal performances in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. And Hoyer has been in House Democratic leadership since the Reagan administration.

“Leader Hoyer is proud to continue serving his constituents and the American people and to be a proven and effective leader in getting things done, particularly during times of crisis, including throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hoyer spokesperson Margaret Mulkerrin told Fox News.

Pramila Jayapal

Jayapal, D-Wash., is the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and one of the House members whose power and notoriety exploded in 2021. She and her progressive members blocked the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill for months as they tried to extract assurances that Democrats’ massive reconciliation spending bill would make it through the Senate.

The field

Assistant House Speaker Katherine Clark, D-Mass., is a big-state Democrat with establishment credibility. She’s also in her 50s, like Jeffries, giving her more youth than Clyburn or Hoyer. But she may not seek the speaker spot if Jeffries is the front-runner, as The Atlantic reported earlier this year the pair aim to advance their careers as allies.

Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., is considered a rising star in the Progressive Caucus. She could be a dark horse candidate for progressives if Jayapal decides that she can be most effective where she is. Porter is also one of the most prolific fundraisers in the Democratic Caucus, according to the LA Times – something that is a key part of the party leader job. But Porter only entered Congress in 2018, which may handicap her chances at the top job.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., has also been thrown around in recent years as a successor to Pelosi, especially after his aggressive attacks on Trump on the Russia issue. But amid a trickle of more and more information undermining the narrative that Trump colluded with Russia during the 2016 election, Schiff has been playing more defense than offense recently.

House Democratic Caucus Vice Chair Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., brings experience in a leadership position to the table for Democrats. But with multiple members of leadership ahead of him in line, and other outsiders that have more name recognition and larger natural constituencies, it’s difficult to see Aguilar’s path to party leader.