Adam Schiff is testing the waters to lead House Democrats next year: report

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Adam Schiff
Rep. Adam Schiff of California.Brandon Bell/Getty Images
  • Rep. Adam Schiff is gauging a potential run for House Democratic leader, per The Washington Post.

  • Schiff, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, is a prominent face within the party.

  • However, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries has long been seen as a frontrunner to succeed Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Rep. Adam Schiff — the California Democrat and influential chairman of the Intelligence Committee who rose to national prominence as a manager of former President Donald Trump's first impeachment — is maneuvering behind the scenes to potentially succeed Speaker Nancy Pelosi as House Democratic leader, according to The Washington Post.

Pelosi, who has led the Democratic caucus in the lower chamber since 2003 and served as speaker from 2007 to 2011 before regaining the speaker's gavel in 2019, is running for reelection this fall but has not committed to remaining in leadership beyond this year — when the party is poised to bring in a new set of leaders in the House.

At least eight members of Congress confirmed Schiff's leadership push to The Post.

If Schiff is able to make inroads among a large share of members, it would immediately alter a contest to succeed Pelosi that was likely to include Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, who for some time has been seen as a natural successor to the speaker, along with Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina.

Hoyer and Clyburn, along with Pelosi, who are all in their 80s, have served as the face of House Democratic leadership since former President George W. Bush was in the White House — and many of the body's younger members are primed to opt for a wholesale generational change after the midterm elections.

Jeffries, along with Reps. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts and Pete Aguilar of California, have long been seen as the rising stars within the Democratic caucus.

Schiff — a prolific fundraiser who represents a Los Angeles-anchored congressional district that includes North Hollywood and parts of the San Fernando Valley — has started speaking to members from his home base of California to gauge whether he could mount a successful campaign, per the report.

While Schiff has reportedly not sought direct endorsements, he has touched base with several key parts of the caucus, including the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

The lawmaker, who also serves on the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol, has also consulted with members within the Progressive Caucus and the moderate New Democrat Coalition.

However, some members expressed doubts that Schiff could garner enough votes to win a leadership race, according to a group of lawmakers who spoke with The Post.

Hakeem Jeffries
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York.Alex Wong/Getty Images

Jeffries — a 51-year-old Black lawmaker from Brooklyn who has served as chair of the House Democratic caucus since 2019 — has endeared himself within many elements of the caucus and would be tough to defeat in a leadership vote given the years he has spent cultivating relationships with members.

"I told (Schiff) I thought it would be a difficult thing because of the lead that Hakeem has," a California member told The Post.

Also, while the California Democratic delegation wields enormous power as it relates to enacting the party's agenda, support for Schiff has not been strong, per the report.

"I am with Jeffries and have been for quite some time," said another California member who also thinks highly of Schiff. "This puts me in an awkward place."

No lawmaker who spoke with The Post said they would back Schiff, but virtually every member said he deserved to have an important role within the party. In the conversations, Schiff did not ask that members declare any specific allegiance to his potential bid.

Schiff spokeswoman Cate Hurley told The Post that the congressman's "time and energy are focused" on supporting Democrats this fall.

"Chairman Schiff is doing everything possible to support vulnerable Democratic colleagues and promising challengers so that we can retain the House Democratic majority in November," she told the newspaper.

Democrats currently have a razor-thin 220-211 majority in the House, with Republicans hoping to flip control of the chamber later this year amid President Joe Biden's lackluster approval ratings and concerns about inflation.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California earlier this year said he would remove Schiff from the Intelligence committee if Republicans retake control of the lower chamber after the midterms, alleging that the Democratic lawmaker has politicized the panel.

Read the original article on Business Insider