Oakland, Calif. Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee announced her candidacy for House Democratic Chair on Monday, after New York City Democratic Congressman Joe Crowly was defeated in his primary by Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, the 28-year-old Puerto Rican progressive community activist from the Bronx.
Lee, who is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and former chairperson of the Congressional Black Caucus, will run against Congresswoman Linda Sanchez of Eastern Los Angeles County. Sanchez is the sister of former Orange County Congresswoman Linda Sanchez, and when elected by her House Democratic colleagues in 2017 as the House Democratic Caucus Vice Chair, she became the first non-white woman to be ever elected to a leadership position in the history of the Congress.
Congresswoman Lee has been known for a progressive policy record on a wide variety of issues — especially on foreign policy and national security — and was the only congressional representative to vote against the authorization of military force after the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks. Lee, a former state legislator, also endorsed Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison during the 2017 DNC leadership race.
The race between Sanchez and Lee further reflects the political divide between the establishment liberal centrists and the grassroots progressive leftists within the Democratic Party. The divide has deepened since the 2016 presidential primary between Hillary Clinton and Independent Senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders.
With liberal moderates such as Connor Lamb (Pennsylvania) and Doug Jones (Alabama) winning their general elections, and grassroots progressives such as Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (New York) and Ben Jealous (Maryland) winning their primaries, it seems this division will continue well beyond the 2018 midterms.
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