U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee considers bid for chair of House Democratic Conference

Rep. Barbara Lee spoke with KTVU on Thursday morning, discussing her “viability” as she considers running for a Democratic leadership position in the House of Representatives after a high-ranking Democrat lost his position last week.

“I think I bring a unique perspective,” the Oakland congresswoman told Mornings on 2, explaining that she used to be on food stamps and was a single mother. And she will bring these perspectives, she said, to the progressive base.

“I have a lot had a lot of experience forming coalitions," she said. "And in terms of our agenda, we have one the entire country can relate to: Affordable healthcare, debt-free college, raising the living wage, access to opportunities.”

Lee, one of the most liberal members of the House who has held a seat since 1998, announced last week that she was talking to colleagues about running for House Democratic Conference chair, a position currently held by New York Rep. Joe Crowley. The opportunity opened up after Crowley — the fourth highest-ranked Democrat in the House — lost in an upset to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old Democratic Socialist candidate from the Bronx.

No black woman has ever been elected to the leadership team of either party, the Washington Post noted. The Post was the first to report Lee’s potential bid. 

Lee’s announcement comes amid a larger question for House Democrats over Crowley’s loss — and questions about whether Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, will be able to hold onto her job after the November midterms, the Mercury News reported.

Crowley was seen as one of the likeliest candidates to succeed Pelosi as minority leader or Speaker of the House. On one hand, his loss removes a potential candidate to replace her. But Ocasio-Cortez’s win — on a platform that included abolishing ICE and for Medicare-for-all — also heightens concerns about whether Pelosi and other leaders should make way for younger, liberal rising stars, according to the Mercury News.

Lee said that she told Pelosi that she wanted this post and she reiterated on Mornings on 2 that Pelosi has done “phenomenal work” to try to “take back the House” from the “un-American Trump who is destroying our country.” She added: "This administration wreaking havoc on the country and the world." 

It’s not clear whether Crowley will step down from his leadership position before his term ends in December. 

Lee declined to answer whether she thinks she’d win the post. “No comment,” she told KTVU. “I’m just doing my due diligence. We won’t know until after November. But I’m getting positive responses. So far so good.”