The race for a key Democratic post just heated up

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  • California Rep. Linda Sánchez announced her intent to run for House Democratic Caucus chair, in which she would replace the outgoing New York Rep. Joe Crowley.
  • Sanchez as repeatedly called for new blood in the Democratic leadership structure since the 2016 elections.

WASHINGTON – The fight to replace Rep. Joe Crowley as the next chair of the House Democratic Caucus got an extra boost on Tuesday, when California lawmaker and current Vice Chair Linda Sánchez announced her intent to run for the spot.

“Over the last 18 months, I have been privileged to serve as Caucus Vice Chair. It has been an honor to work with Chairman Crowley to ensure that the Caucus is responsive to the needs of every member,” Sánchez wrote in a letter to her Democratic colleagues on Tuesday. “I am encouraged by the conversations I have had with many members about continuing that work, and I am pleased to announce that I will run for House Democratic Caucus Chair for the 116th Congress.”

Sánchez also noted the urgency to start making moves ahead of the 2018 midterm elections this November.

“A new Congress gives us the opportunity to take a full assessment of what changes we need to make to ensure our success going forward,” she wrote. “However, it is clear that if we wait until next year to have these discussions it will be too late. We must prepare now.”

But Sánchez could still face a bit of a challenge. There are other Democrats looking to fill the void left by Crowley, who recently lost his primary challenge to 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez after nearly two decades in Congress. Before his loss, Crowley was thought by many in Washington to be a frontrunner to become the next Democratic leader, especially if Republicans were to keep their majority in the House.

The Democrats’ leadership in the House could come under significant scrutiny if there is a wave election in the fall. Many insurgent candidates winning Democratic primaries in recent months have vowed against supporting the leadership in its current form, which has become a contentious issue in establishment wing of the caucus.

And Sánchez has been very critical of the current leadership structure, telling reporters as recent as last week that she thinks there should be a generational shift in the Democratic brass, which consists entirely of septuagenarians.

“I think again there is a breadth and depth talent in our caucus and I do think that having the top three leadership of the same generation, I think it’s time for that generational change,” Sánchez said. “And whether there’s transition or not remains to be seen. I want to be part of that transition because I don’t intend to stay in Congress until I’m in my seventies.”