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Larson Third to Seek Vice Chair Job

Connecticut Rep. John Larson has become the third Democratic lawmaker to enter the race to become the next vice chairman of the Caucus, several well-placed sources confirmed Tuesday.

Larson, a fourth-term Member recently appointed to the Ways and Means Committee, joins Reps. Joe Crowley (N.Y.) and Jan Schakowsky (Ill.) in the battle for the position. Larson has been talking to Members and making phone calls seeking support for his candidacy in recent days, sources said.

“He is running,” said a senior Democratic aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “What I can tell you is that he, like everybody in this race, brings his own strengths to the table.

“The long and short of it is he already has a wide breadth of support and he would not be entering the race if he didn’t.”

“Larson is in the race, he’s making calls and appears to be running,” said another knowledgeable source.

Larson’s office did not return phone calls seeking comment Tuesday.

Rep. James Clyburn (S.C.) currently holds the vice chairman slot, but cannot run for the seat again in 2006 because of term limits. The job may become available early next year, however, if Democratic Caucus Chairman Bob Menendez (N.J.) wins appointment to the Senate and vacates his post. Clyburn has expressed interest in becoming Caucus Chairman.

Other Members could still enter the race for the No. 4 leadership slot, sources cautioned.

Crowley and Schakowsky made their bids formal in letters to Members in recent days, and have been making phone calls and meeting with fellow lawmakers.

Larson’s support could further divide Caucus allegiances. He is a strong ally of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), but has ties to more conservative lawmakers based on his past service on the Armed Services Committee.

Crowley, meanwhile, is expected to pull his greatest support from moderates and within the New York delegation, while Schakowsky should see her greatest support coming from liberal Members and the Illinois delegation.

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