Nancy Pelosi's allies in Connecticut support Hakeem Jeffries' bid to become next Democratic leader

Members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation on Friday lined up behind U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries’ bid to become the next Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, following the decision by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to step down after leading the caucus for nearly two decades. 

Jeffries, a 52-year-old from New York, is widely seen as the frontrunner to succeed Pelosi as Democratic leader after the party narrowly lost control of the House during this year’s midterm elections. If elected, he would be the first Black lawmaker to lead either party in Congress. 

All five incumbents in Connecticut won re-election this month, keeping the state’s delegation entirely in the hands of Democrats for a record eighth-straight election

Several members of the state’s delegation are known to be close to Pelosi, particularly 3rd District Rep. Rosa DeLauro, who thanked the Speaker in a tweet Thursday, calling her a “undeniable force, and to me, a dear friend, confidant, and ally.” First District Rep. John Larson, a former chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. released his own statement calling Pelosi an “historic leader,” along with a photo of the two walking side-by-side just before the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. 

Jeffries, who is the current caucus chair, is also a Pelosi ally. He has received the public support from her two top deputies, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S C., who each noted a desire to pass on the ranks of leadership to a younger generation of lawmakers. 

Other contenders have until after Thanksgiving to enter the race for leadership positions, though Jeffries could end up running unopposed. The Democratic caucus will vote for its next leaders behind closed doors on Nov. 30. 

A few minutes after Jeffries formally launched his bid in a letter to Democrats on Friday morning, Rep. Joe Courtney, who represents the state's 2nd District, said he “enthusiastically” supports Jeffries and the other members of his proposed leadership team, which include Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass., and Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif.

“They span the caucus in a lot of ways, which is I think going to be important to keeping us united, which is job No. 1,” Courtney said. 

Later, DeLauro also announced her support for Jeffries in a statement praising the work of Pelosi’s outgoing leadership team. 

“With their stepping aside, Hakeem Jeffries will make history as the first Black leader of the House Democratic caucus,” DeLauro said. “I believe he will help us win back the majority in 2024 and will keep our diverse caucus united as we fight to pass legislation that helps deal the working- and middle-class back in.”

Larson and 4th District Rep. Jim Himes also announced their support of Jeffries’ leadership bid on Friday.

“This is a historic first on two fronts: the first woman Speaker passing the torch to the first person of color to lead our party in the House,” Larson said in a statement. “I am honored to support Chairman Jeffries for Democratic Leader in the 118th Congress as we welcome a new generation of leadership [in] the House Democratic Caucus!”

During an appearance on CNN Thursday evening, Himes said that Jeffries "has been quietly and respectfully positioning himself for this for a long time." His office released a follow-up statement on Friday, calling Jeffries a "worthy successor" to Pelosi. 

"Hakeem is a friend of many years, and I know that he has the integrity, acumen, and dedication to inspire and unite a new generation of Americans nationwide," Himes said. "I greatly look forward to working with him."  

The only member of Connecticut’s congressional delegation who did not publicly endorse Jeffries on Friday was 5th District Rep. Jahana Hayes, D- Conn., whose office declined to comment on the leadership race. 

Earlier in the week, however, the leader of the Congressional Black Caucus, of which Hayes is a member, predicted that Jeffries would receive unanimous support from the caucus’ members.

“I don’t always speak for everybody, but I’m very comfortable saying I believe that every member of the Congressional Black Caucus would vote for Hakeem Jeffries,” said the chairwoman, Rep. Joyce Beatty, D- Ohio, according to CNN

Jeffries, who is also a member of the Black Caucus, campaigned for Hayes in Waterbury during her first successful run for Congress in 2018. During that race, Hayes declined to say whether she would support Pelosi for another term as Democratic leader, saying “we need to usher in fresh faces and new leadership so that we represent diverse perspectives. Ultimately, Hayes supported Pelosi’s bid for the Speaker’s gavel along with every other member of the state’s delegation.