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Hoosier free-for-all? Spartz eyes Senate run in 2024 as Braun pursues gov race

Rep. Victoria Spartz is telling fellow Republicans she plans to run for the Senate in 2024 if fellow Hoosier Sen. Mike Braun launches a gubernatorial bid, according to three Republicans familiar with her plans.

To some, her potential bid came as no surprise: A fourth Republican familiar with her thinking said the first-term, Ukrainian-born lawmaker has raised the idea of running for Senate since the early days of this Congress. But Spartz would bring political liabilities to a GOP primary, having frustrated her own party’s leaders with her handling of Russia’s war in Ukraine and taken heat for how she’s managed her Hill staff.

And other Republicans are likely to vie to succeed Braun, who has discussed his gubernatorial intentions with the Hoosier delegation. The senator would upend Hoosier politics should he pass on reelection — opening the door to competitive Republican primaries in barn-red Indiana on both the gubernatorial line and down-ballot races.

The governor’s mansion is wide open for 2024 with a term-limited incumbent in Gov. Eric Holcomb, and former two-term Gov. Mitch Daniels has not denied interest in seeking a third term. Eric Doden, a Fort Wayne businessperson and former economic development appointee of then-Gov. Mike Pence, is the only declared gubernatorial candidate in the race, having raised more than $1.3 million since last year. Lt. Gov Suzanne Crouch is also said to be assembling a team to run for governor in 2024.

A Senate field, meanwhile, could include retiring Rep. Trey Hollingsworth, who has kicked the tires on a gubernatorial bid and talked with Braun about his future, according to a person familiar with Hollingsworth’s deliberations. And attorney General Todd Rokita, who lost to Braun in 2018, could also enter another Senate race.

Still, Spartz backers see her as a strong contender in the still-unofficial battle to succeed Braun.

“Rep. Spartz would consider running for Senate should Braun run for governor, and she would be well positioned to win the GOP nomination from a name identification, fundraising and ideological perspective,” one Republican close to her said, speaking on condition of anonymity about an undefined race as did others interviewed for this story.

Inside the Capitol, Spartz has struggled to find her footing. She’s faced massive staff-turnover, leading one nonpartisan group’s list of “Worst Bosses” in Congress as a result. More than a half-dozen former staffers raised concerns to POLITICO earlier this year about her tendency to berate and undermine aides. Her later response to these complaints in an interview with a local outlet: The staffers need to toughen up.

Spartz also has caused headaches for Republican leadership during Russia’s war on Ukraine, her birth country. At the outset of the Russian invasion, the GOP conference spotlighted Spartz’s emotional accounts from family and friends who were being bombarded in air raids. However, as the war progressed, she became an active critic of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy even as his defense against Moscow won worldwide support, including from most other Republican lawmakers.

A spokesperson for Spartz did not immediately return a request for comment.

In 2020, the conservative Club for Growth spent more than $3 million on her race. After a competitive general election matchup with Democrat Christina Hale, Indiana state lawmakers earlier this year redrew her suburban Indianapolis seat into more safely red territory.

Indiana used to be a Senate battleground, but those days may be over. Former Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) lost a bid to rejoin the chamber in 2016, Braun defeated former Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) in 2018 and Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) is heavily favored to win reelection this fall.

And if Spartz joins the Senate GOP primary, that would also likely trigger a wide-open 5th Congressional District contest.

“It will be a great couple years for opposition research shops,” another influential Hoosier Republican operative said.

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  • 18 часов, 27 минут назад 02.10.2022Congress
    Scott declines to condemn Trump statement about McConnell’s ‘death wish’

    Republican Sen. Rick Scott avoided criticizing former President Donald Trump on Sunday, asked repeatedly about threatening and racist language posted by Trump against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his wife on Saturday.

    McConnell has a “DEATH WISH” because he is “approving” Democratic bills, Trump posted Saturday on his own social media platform, Truth Social.

    Scott, the Florida senator who is the leader of Senate Republicans’ campaign arm, repeatedly deflected questions on the attack from one member of his party against another in an exchange with host Margaret Brennan on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

    “What I want to make sure is what I can do. I can try my best to bring people together,” Scott said when asked about the post, before pivoting to issues of inflation, spending and comments by Vice President Kamala Harris.

    Trump also mocked Elaine Chao — McConnell’s spouse — as “his China-loving wife Coco Chow.” Chao served in President George W. Bush’s Cabinet as secretary of Labor and in Trump’s Cabinet as secretary of Transportation.

    “The president likes to give people nicknames,” Scott initially said in response to the comment, on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Pressed further by host Dana Bash, Scott said, “It’s never, ever OK to be a racist,” and added that he hopes no one says anything racist or inappropriate.

    Chao resigned from her position in Trump’s Cabinet shortly after the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

    McConnell has criticized Scott for the agenda he put forth for Republican Senate candidates. The Kentuckian has also swiped at the “quality” of Senate candidates on the ballot in crucial upcoming midterm elections.

    “Sen. McConnell and I clearly have a strategic disagreement here … We have great candidates,” the National Republican Senatorial Committee chair told POLITICO this summer.

  • 2 дня, 18 часов назад 30.09.2022Congress
    House passes government funding, averting shutdown threat

    The House passed a short-term government funding patch on Friday, sending the measure to President Joe Biden hours before a shutdown would’ve kicked in at midnight.

    The lower chamber cleared the measure in a 230-201 vote, funding the government through the midterm elections until Dec. 16 and providing billions in additional Ukraine aid and disaster relief. Most Republicans opposed the bill.

    The temporary funding package buys time for congressional negotiations on a broader government spending deal that would increase agency budgets.

  • 4 дня, 2 часа назад 29.09.2022Congress
    Watch the throne: Race for 2024’s House GOP campaign king is already on

    The campaign to lead the House GOP’s campaign arm for 2024 is heating up before the midterms even end.

    With Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) set to cede the National Republican Congressional Committee as he seeks the whip position next year, Reps. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) and Darin LaHood (R-Ill.) are in a two-man race to take on a role that will require navigating tough political terrain.

    House Republicans hope and expect to be on strong footing in swing states come 2024 after a midterm cycle that has them eyeing as many as 30 pickups. But defending a majority also means the threat of losing more seats — and serving as campaign chief during a presidential election, when GOP donors face more competition for their dollars, will make the job harder.

    Adding to the upward climb, the next NRCC chair may have to respond to the unpredictable whims of Donald Trump during a third White House bid, while also pivoting around other candidates who might join a Republican primary. Both Hudson and LaHood say they are up for all aspects of the job.

    “Tom Emmer has done an incredible job. … And so, if I had the opportunity to serve as chairman, I’m not gonna go in and dismantle what’s there,” Hudson said in an interview. “I want to go build on what he’s done.”

    When asked why he should take the campaign lead spot, Hudson, who’s already talking with colleagues about his aspirations to lead the NRCC, emphasized his efforts to help the party win back the House this fall, from working with candidates to traveling and fundraising for the House GOP committee. LaHood’s pitch is similar.

    “We need somebody that’s going to be a prolific fundraiser, somebody that’s going to defend and grow our majority, a consistent conservative team player and somebody that’s got organizational skills,” said LaHood, NRCC’s current Finance vice chair. “If you look at the last four years of my involvement with the NRCC, I’ve succeeded in many of those areas.”

    On paper, the two don’t seem to differ much. Both are 50-somethings who currently serve in NRCC leadership and are well-liked in the GOP conference. And both have plenty of Capitol Hill knowledge, albeit from different vantage points: Hudson has long-established ties within the party from his time as a congressional staffer, notching stints as a chief of staff and a campaign manager before he became a lawmaker himself in 2013.

    For LaHood, Congress is in his blood. His father, former Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.), served in the House for 15 years before becoming the lone Republican in President Barack Obama’s Cabinet. Before the younger Lahood came to Congress in 2017 he was a federal prosecutor.

    The race is still something of a sleeper, getting overshadowed by the crowded and aggressive three-Republican battle for majority whip next Congress as well as the drama playing out over the House conference chair role as the GOP focuses on sprinting through the tape to take back control of the chamber in November.

    Hudson can credibly argue that he has broader experience with various roles at the NRCC, currently serving as vice chair of the Patriot program that helps reelect vulnerable incumbents — the Republican version of Democrats’ vocal “frontliners.” He previously served as the NRCC’s finance vice chair and recruitment chair in previous Congresses.

    LaHood is the current finance vice chair and helmed the NRCC’s 2019 spring dinner, where Trump gave a keynote address.

    As alike as Hudson and LaHood might seem, they’re known among colleagues for different strengths, according to conversations with a dozen GOP lawmakers. Hudson’s clout comes from his relationships within the conference that resulted from his time working for other members, while allies of LaHood pointed to his fundraising numbers.

    North Carolina Rep. Patrick McHenry, the top Republican on the House Financial Services Committee and a powerful player in the party, said both are “quality candidates” but is throwing his support to his home-state colleague, praising Hudson’s ability to be an “excellent NRCC chair.” McHenry’s friendship with Hudson dates back to their college years, he noted.

    Another Hudson backer, Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Texas), joked about his friend’s relentlessness in fundraising calls: “Tony, you’re 500 percent over your dues, but we need more.” (Gonzales, a co-chair of the NRCC’s “Young Gun” program for promising younger candidates, is actually 750 percent over his dues.)

    And first-term Rep. Julia Letlow (R-La.) credited Hudson with having “gone the extra mile” when she came to Congress as a widowed single mother of two young children. Hudson even handed off one of his baby cribs to her, Letlow recalled.

    But another House Republican, who spoke on condition of anonymity to outline a sensitive situation, noted that Hudson might face a whipping conundrum: This lawmaker supports LaHood for NRCC but is considering sending pro-Hudson signals for now because the North Carolinian sits on the GOP Steering Committee, which decides committee assignments and most gavels.

    While supporters of LaHood credit his ability to rake in cash — a huge factor in all leadership races but especially the donor-centric NRCC helm — Hudson isn’t far behind him in fundraising. Hudson has donated $1.3 million to members and candidates so far this cycle, in addition to over $1 million to the NRCC as well as $3.2 million raised for his personal campaign and leadership PAC.

    LaHood has raised $3.4 million, giving him more than $4 million cash on hand this cycle. Combined with his personal campaign and leadership PAC, he has given over $1.32 million to candidates and incumbents as well as $2.35 million to the NRCC.

    “You could say [LaHood’s] a rock star. He’s done a great job as the National Finance chairman at the NRCC. And we’re gonna do record-breaking fundraising this cycle, which is what we need to do,” said Rep. Carol Miller (R-W.Va.), the campaign arm’s recruitment vice chair. “Coming into the next presidential election cycle, we need a strong chairman. I think his experience and the success he’s had in the last couple of cycles will stand him in good stead.”

    There’s also a tough decision ahead for LaHood: Taking over NRCC could mean an uncomfortable decision to drop one of his coveted committee spots. He now sits on the influential tax-writing Ways and Means panel and the intelligence panel appointed by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

    In a party where regional identity can mean everything, geographical alliances like McHenry’s with Hudson may prove a deciding factor. LaHood can lean on his Midwest base, but if Hudson can get the entire North Carolina delegation — on top of other southern members — to rally around him, it could propel him to victory.

    “He’s from a more conservative district,” Rep. Randy Weber (R-Texas) said of Hudson. “Darin’s a great guy, no question about it, but … Richard Hudson worked for Texas chiefs. He’s got a Texas connection.”

  • 4 дня, 2 часа назад 29.09.2022Congress
    ‘Reason to worry’: Italy’s Meloni holds a mirror to Trump’s GOP

    U.S. conservatives are rallying behind Italy’s newly elected far-right prime minister — praise that highlights the Trumpification of GOP foreign policy doctrines and the fragility of the Western coalition against Russia’s war in Ukraine.

    Giorgia Meloni’s deep ties to the American right are unusual for a foreign leader: She counts Steve Bannon as an ally and has spoken twice at U.S. conservatives’ premier annual gathering. Statements of support for Meloni’s victory have come almost exclusively from U.S. Republicans, while as of Wednesday President Joe Biden had yet to offer the far-right firebrand his congratulations.

    Embracing Meloni, who hasn’t yet officially assumed the role, could be a risky play for Republicans. Her party, Brothers of Italy, espouses staunchly anti-immigration policies with a rallying cry against “globalists,” and its previous iteration has roots in neo-fascism. Meloni’s government is shaping up as Italy’s most far-right in the history of the republic formed after the demise of Benito Mussolini, the fascist dictator she once praised.

    As Donald Trump’s “America First” foreign policy opens rifts among U.S. conservatives over continued aid to Ukraine, with the former president signaling a desire to stop funding Kyiv, the GOP boost for Meloni runs the risk of emboldening the party’s MAGA wing against more establishment voices who want to continue aiding Ukraine. Some of Meloni’s coalition partners have allied with Vladimir Putin in the past and, more recently, refused to condemn his brutal invasion.

    But if GOP lawmakers are nervous about allying with a future prime minister who has said that immigration “deprives nations and people of their identity” — while opposing new mosques in Italy — they’re not showing it.

    “Global elites are crying in their granola because yet another conservative populist was elected,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who praised Meloni’s “spectacular” victory speech. “And across the globe, we see battles between the socialist left — the arrogant elites who want to control people’s lives — and the populist uprising pressing back against it.”

    Cruz then illustrated the tricky line that pro-Meloni conservatives must walk by underscoring the importance of Western unity on cutting off Russian energy sources. With winter fast approaching and fuel prices skyrocketing across Europe, keeping Italy and other nations on board with that may not be easy.

    Meloni, 45, has sought to moderate her views recently, and this week she tweeted support for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Yet as Europe teeters on the brink of a recession stemming at least partly from energy sanctions imposed on Russia, there are fears within the Biden administration and elsewhere that Meloni could slash what’s been a significant Italian contribution to Ukraine’s defense.

    Such a move could have a domino effect and cause key Western allies to push for a negotiated end to Russia’s war on Ukraine. Trump backed that position Wednesday, one Ukraine’s leaders vehemently oppose because it would likely require giving up large swaths of their territory to Putin.

    “Like anything with a new administration, you’ve got to see how they act, not what they say,” said Senate Foreign Relations Chair Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), who recently traveled to Italy for an economic conference. “You can be conservative in your country but not necessarily carry out a foreign policy that’s conservative. If she were to carry out the equivalent of Trump’s foreign policy, that’d be a reason for concern.”

    The pandemic briefly halted the rise of far-right parties throughout Europe, Italy included, making Meloni’s victory the strongest evidence in years that the populist movements across the continent — many of which are allied with Trump — are alive and well. Those same populist parties are strengthening their ties to like-minded politicians across the Atlantic.

    That at least partially explains Meloni’s celebrity status to some Republicans who’ve watched her espousal of traditional values and family-oriented social conservatism propel her past campaign messaging. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who favors what he calls the “nationalist” approach of Trump and other conservative foreign leaders, said in a brief interview that he’s read her recent speeches and found her “very intriguing.”

    Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who often aligns himself with the Trump wing of the GOP on foreign policy, said Meloni’s victory speech over the weekend “had me cheering.”

    “To me, it was encouraging,” added Paul. “I think people probably reacted in an unfair way to her. For goodness’ sake, calling the woman Mussolini is a little bit over the top.”

    Some of Trump’s staunchest allies in Congress, like Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), also cheered Meloni’s victory. Others, like Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, simply offered their congratulations.

    Establishment Republicans aren’t saying much — yet — but there are private fears that Meloni’s win could embolden more pro-Trump colleagues to push to cut off funding for Ukraine.

    Democrats, meanwhile, had mixed reviews. They were reassured when Meloni tweeted her vow to continue Italy’s “loyal support for the cause of freedom of Ukrainian people.” But they vowed to stay clear-eyed about the new prime minister’s reaction to the economic headwinds on the horizon this winter as the effort to economically and diplomatically isolate Putin goes on.

    Financial pressures on European governments have given oxygen to populist politicians more likely to redirect Ukraine funds to domestic causes — an acute worry for the Biden administration as it works to keep the Western coalition intact.

    Some Democrats are more optimistic than others about Meloni.

    “Until recently, the idea that a party with its roots in post-Second World War neo-fascism would be leading the government in Italy was unthinkable,” Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) said. “But I don’t think it is the disaster for the EU or NATO coalitions that has been predicted in some settings.”

    While Meloni has sought to reassure jittery allies, her record — and her pro-Trump alignment in the U.S. — affirms her potential willingness to reconsider Italy’s strong support for Ukraine. Some in Washington also fear that she could go the more authoritarian route of other far-right leaders in Europe, like Hungary’s Viktor Orbán.

    Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said the Biden administration should have “reason to worry about the Italian government’s seriousness moving forward on Russia policy,” especially given Meloni’s alignment with Trump allies.

    Then again, Murphy was equally skeptical about the U.S. maintaining its level of support for Ukraine if Republicans take control of one or both chambers of Congress in November, given Trump’s influence and efforts to defeat previous Ukraine aid packages.

  • 5 дней назад 28.09.2022Congress
    Poll: Majority supports reforming electoral vote count law

    Congress is preparing to rewrite the 135-year-old presidential election certification law, and most American voters think that’s a good idea.

    A majority of voters favor making it harder to override future election results, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll. Fifty-two percent of respondents said it should be harder for Congress to override presidential election results, and 53 percent said it should be more difficult for state governments to do so, the poll shows.

    In addition to showing support for reforming Congress’ counting of electoral votes, the poll also recorded a downtick in President Joe Biden’s approval rating and showed Republicans narrowing the generic congressional ballot ahead of the November midterm elections.

    Following the Trump-fueled riot at the Capitol and the promotion of legal theories to stop Congress’ certification of the 2020 presidential election results, legislators in both chambers took up reviewing the electoral count process to remove uncertainty about how the Electoral College votes are tallied.

    The Senate Rules Committee on Tuesday advanced bipartisan legislation that specifies that electors have to comply with state laws, formalizes that the vice president’s role in election certification is ceremonial and raises the threshold for objecting results to one-fifth of Congress.

    That committee meeting follows a successful passage last week of the House’s version of similar legislation, with a one-third threshold for objection.

    Currently just one member of the House of Representatives and one member of the Senate can force a vote on objecting the election results during the certification process.

    The Senate is widely expected to pass its version of the bill, after Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced his support for the measure, which already had enough Republican co-sponsors to overcome a filibuster.

    The electoral count reforms are a priority for Congress in advance of the 2024 presidential election and are expected to make it through a conference committee to Biden’s desk before the end of the year.

    In the poll, there wasn’t a clear consensus among respondents on how to make it more difficult to challenge election results. About one-third of voters in the poll said they didn’t have an opinion on changing the threshold for objection, and one-quarter of voters said the current standard should remain the same.

    The support to change the electoral count law also garnered bipartisan and independent support in the poll. A majority of Democrats supported both making it harder for Congress and state governments to override election results, at 66 percent and 65 percent, respectively.

    More than 50 percent of independents supported making it harder for state governments to override results, and 45 percent supported it when it came to Congress. Support among Republican voters was lower: 41 percent when it comes to state governments, and 42 percent when it comes to Congress.

    The POLITICO/Morning Consult poll was conducted Sept. 23-25, surveying 2,005 registered voters. The margin of error is plus-or-minus 2 percentage points.

    In other findings, the poll also found Biden’s approval rating dropping to just 41 percent, with 56 percent disapproving. That’s down from 46 percent in last week’s poll — which had represented Biden’s 2022 high-water mark.

    A plurality of voters also did not approve of Biden’s handling of the economy, jobs, healthcare, immigration, climate change and a host of other policy areas surveyed in the poll.

    The economy was the top issue among 44 percent of voters (the highest of any issue in the poll), and 61 percent disapproved of Biden’s handling of the economy.

    Two-thirds of respondents said they did not think Biden should run for president again in 2024. If Biden didn’t run, Vice President Kamala Harris was the favorite out of a list of 12 potential Democratic primary contenders, with 26 percent support among Democratic voters and Democratic-leaning independents. In second place was Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, winning 13 percent support. Fully a quarter of Democrats were undecided.

    About the same number of respondents, more than 60 percent, said former President Donald Trump should not run again, either.

    A majority of voters said they believed that Trump had not handled his business affairs honestly before his presidency, during his presidency or after his presidency — more than 50 percent in each instance. The poll was conducted in the days after New York state Attorney General Tish James announced charges against Trump and three of his adult children in a civil investigation on his business dealings. That investigation is one of several investigations into the former president preceding in several jurisdictions across the country.

    Less than eight weeks before the midterms, Democrats showed a slight advantage over Republicans in congressional races even with Biden’s low approval rating and concerns around the economy.

    Forty-five percent of voters said they would vote for a Democrat for Congress if the election was today compared to 43 percent who preferred a Republican candidate, the poll found. In last week’s poll, Democrats had a 5-point lead, 47 percent to 42 percent.

    Democrats garnered a plurality of support from voters under age 45, women and from those with incomes levels both higher than $100,000 and less than $50,000 per year. Republicans did better with voters 45 and older, and with Christian voters.

    Morning Consult is a global data intelligence company, delivering insights on what people think in real time by surveying tens of thousands across the globe every single day.

    More details on the poll and its methodology can be found in these two documents: Toplines | Crosstabs

  • 5 дней, 2 часа назад 28.09.2022Congress
    Hill Dems’ hottest leadership ticket: House No. 6

    While most of Washington focuses on the future of House Democrats’ upper leadership rungs, their most competitive race so far actually sits at No. 6.

    As Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her top two lieutenants stay mum about their future plans, the battle to serve as vice chair of the House Democratic caucus next year is bursting into public view. Four contenders are actively jostling for what’s widely seen as a stepping stone to a more senior position in their party.

    “It’s like becoming the third vice president of the rotary club,” Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) said of the interest in the lower-ranking position. “You know you’re going to be president one day.”

    The four vice chair hopefuls so far are Reps. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.), Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), and Ted Lieu (D-Calif.). Between them, nearly every corner of the caucus is represented: the Congressional Black Caucus, progressives, the New Democrat Coalition and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

    Most of the quartet have laid the groundwork for months, if not years, to snag a public-facing position that assists in messaging and managing the whims of a hugely diverse caucus. And all of them have stepped up their outreach to fellow Democrats in recent weeks, according to interviews with more than a dozen Democratic lawmakers and aides.

    With months to go until a leadership election that likely won’t take place until after Thanksgiving, most of those Democrats said it’s nearly impossible to name a front-runner.

    The focus on the No. 6 position isn’t entirely unexpected, as the vice chairmanship is one of the few positions with a known vacancy. The post’s current occupant, Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), is planning to run for a higher position within leadership if and when there are vacancies next year. (Its previous occupant, Massachusetts Rep. Katherine Clark, is also expected to run for a higher perch.)

    “The top three is very messy. It’s just that it’s not formalized because no one actually knows,” Lieu said, when asked about the state of leadership races, both higher-ranking and more under-the-radar.

    Lieu’s pitch to colleagues has centered around his work on the caucus’ messaging arm, known as the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, and his involvement with the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, where he is the whip. A prolific fundraiser, he served in a high-profile role as a manager for Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial and is a vocal critic of the former president on social media.

    “I’m getting very strong support from the ethnic caucuses, from California. That’s half the caucus already,” Lieu said in an interview.

    The Air Force veteran is vying against Dingell, another co-chair of House Democrats’ messaging arm who also won that caucus-wide position after the 2018 midterms.

    Dingell — first elected to fill the seat of her late husband, the late House Dean Rep. John Dingell — is a critical ally of the current leadership slate and is particularly active on trade, the auto industry and prescription drugs. She’s also used her position to try to steer her party, whether it was assessing Trump’s chances in 2016 or this year’s debacle over the president’s Covid funding request.

    “I’m one of the few people who’s not afraid to speak up,” Dingell said, describing her pitch for the vice chairmanship. If elected, she said one of her priorities would be working to engage more members who now sit “in the middle of the caucus.”

    “We need to find a way to get everybody in the caucus a feel for being relevant,” she said.

    Dean, meanwhile, is the most junior member in the race. She too rose to prominence after Pelosi tapped her as an impeachment manager and helped argue the House’s second, post-Jan. 6 case against Trump — a role with emotional weight, since she was part of the so-called “gallery group” barricaded in the chamber when rioters breached the Capitol.

    The former Pennsylvania state legislator argued that far more has happened in her four years in office than the typical second-term member: “These two Congresses have been so jam-packed, dynamic, incredibly important that I didn’t think there would be any reason why I would have to wait in some sort of line.”

    Representing a suburban Philadelphia district, Dean stressed the importance of her swing state in a potential vice chairmanship. But what qualifies her the most, she said, is being the youngest of seven children: “I know how to navigate a complicated family, which is what the caucus is.”

    The most recent entrant is Beatty, who’s led the Congressional Black Caucus for nearly two years. The Ohioan, who fended off a Justice Democrats-backed primary challenger in 2020, has pointedly sought to bridge ideological divides within the Black caucus, which includes some of the party’s most senior members and its most progressive.

    That included high-stakes negotiations on legislation such as last week’s pro-policing bills, as well as Biden’s massive infrastructure law last summer — on both occasions, Beatty’s involvement helped end weeks of infighting within the caucus.

    “I have a great track record of being supportive to those I work with, but also being representative of the greater population,” Beatty said, adding that she has not yet begun formally whipping votes for her leadership bid.

    The field for vice chair isn’t necessarily set. Several Democrats predicted that other candidates could jump in after the Nov. 8 election — or that one or more of the candidates could decide to bow out and seek a different position after the dust settles from other higher-ranking races.

    The current chair of the House Democratic Caucus, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), is term-limited in his position, and is expected to join the leadership shuffle if there are vacancies above, creating another opening for his job. So far, only one Democrat has publicly indicated he’s eyeing that position: Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.).

    Besides Jeffries, Clark and Aguilar, two other Democrats have been making calls about potential openings in the top three leadership positions: Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.). The continued uncertainty at the top of Democrats’ leadership chain, though, has kept most of that jockeying quiet.

    While Pelosi had committed to departing her position after this term, she has said nothing lately on the subject, deflecting that she is focused on the midterms. And her top two deputies, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) have not ruled out another leadership run.

    Several other Democrats are looking at lower-level caucus-wide races, but have not yet decided which ones. Those include Reps. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.), Colin Allred (D-Texas), Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.).

    Even the four lawmakers currently seeking the vice chair position have been careful not to let their campaigns get in the way of what they call the more important one: Keeping the House GOP from seizing the majority.

    “I think everyone should stay singularly focused on making sure we protect the majority,” said Cicilline, who formerly served in House leadership. “We’re going to have lots of time to jockey for positions.”

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Congress Hoosier free-for-all? Spartz eyes Senate run in 2024 as Braun pursues gov race