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Hinojosa Enters Race for House Democratic Vice Chairman

Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (D-Texas) on Thursday became the fourth candidate for vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, a move likely to please many Hispanic Members eager to hold representation in leadership.

Hinojosa, a five-term Member, joins Reps. Joe Crowley (N.Y.), John Larson (Conn.) and Jan Schakowsky (Ill.) in the chase for the future opening. Fellow Congressional Hispanic Caucus member Rep. Hilda Solis (Calif.) said earlier this week she was weighing whether to enter the race.

Hinojosa said he brings a “unique perspective” to the race, having worked in the private sector and through his experience in Congress on key issues ranging from education to minority rights and community development. He said he will be a “formidable candidate” in the race and will work to secure support from throughout the Caucus.

“I think that as a senior Congressman, I can say that I bring extensive experience, working experience, to this leadership position,” Hinojosa said in a telephone interview.

Current Vice Chairman James Clyburn (S.C.) is prevented under Democratic Caucus rules from seeking another term in 2006. But the position could become available as early as next year if Caucus Chairman Bob Menendez (N.J.) is offered and accepts appointment to the Senate — which could happen if Sen. Jon Corzine (D-N.J.) is elected governor of the Garden State this year.

Clyburn plans to run for the top Caucus job if and when Menendez vacates. Even if he doesn’t leave the House early, Menendez cannot serve as Caucus chairman beyond 2006.

Hinojosa said if elected vice chairman, he would continue his efforts to win a Democratic majority by raising money and working to elect Democrats. He said he would also make as a priority giving all Members the opportunity to participate in Caucus decision-making.

“This race is about the positions I have on policy and what I have done to help Democrats get elected and what I have done to try to win majority,” Hinojosa said. “I have tried to be responsive to Democratic Members on the key issues of importance to all of our constituencies.

“I will be requesting support of members of our Caucus in order to be elected by them.”

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