In the aftermath of the upset primary defeat of House Democratic Party Caucus Chair and New York Rep. Joe Crowley, East Bay Rep. Barbara Lee was unequivocal about her intention to run for his open leadership position.
“I was not seriously considering this until Tuesday night,” Lee told the Washington Post last month. “If this were not an open seat, I’d be making a different calculation. But things move fast around here, and I didn’t want to wait until November to start looking at this.”
Lee’s progressive colleague in Alameda County, Rep. Ro Khanna told The Intercept Sunday that he would back Lee’s bid for the House Democratic chair.
“I am proud to support Barbara Lee for conference chair. I will be rallying my colleagues in the progressive caucus for her and also incoming freshman whose campaigns I have helped,” said Khanna. “I have often said that if John F. Kennedy were writing ‘Profiles of Courage’ today, there would be a chapter on Barbara Lee. Her vote in opposing the blank check to war is one of the most courageous acts of modern time.”
For several years, there have been rumblings in the East Bay that Lee was eyeing further career advancement. She was reportedly on the list of potential candidates to be named ambassador to Cuba. But the appointment was predicated on Hillary Clinton winning the presidency. There was also talk of Lee becoming President Barack Obama’s “poverty czar.”
Lee also ran an ill-fated campaign in 2014 to become vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus, in which Lee was narrowly defeated by two votes to fellow California Rep. Linda Sanchez.
Khanna’s comments about Lee’s professional future, meanwhile, are not new. Earlier this year, Khanna floated the idea of Lee challenging Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
Furthermore, Khanna creating connections to Lee, one of the most consistently progressive members of Congress, has been used by him as a tool for winning progressive bona fides within the activist wing of the party during his first term in office.