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Larson Reveals 14 New Supporters in Vice Chair Bid

Seeking to make headway against his two rivals, Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) increased the whip team for his bid for the Caucus vice chairmanship by 14 Members on Tuesday, expanding his overall list of supporters for the post to 17.

Larson’s expanded organization has wide ideological diversity, bringing in four conservative Blue Dogs, two centrist New Democrats and several progressives. He also boasts geographical breadth, with backers from the West, East, Midwest and South.

His greatest regional backing comes from Pennsylvania, with four supporters. Pennsylvania is home to Rep. John Murtha, his campaign co-chairman and a prominent, long-serving Member.

While Larson is seeking to show that he is a serious candidate for the No. 4 House leadership slot, he still trails Reps. Joe Crowley (N.Y.) and Jan Schakowsky (Ill.) in public endorsements. Crowley now claims 40 backers, while Schakowsky has named 38.

Larson on Tuesday claimed the support of Reps. Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), Marion Berry (Ark.), Robert Brady (Pa.), Lincoln Davis (Tenn.), Mike Doyle (Pa.), Tim Holden (Pa.), Marty Meehan (Mass.), Jim Moran (Va.), Tim Ryan (Ohio), Linda Sanchez (Calif.), Bart Stupak (Mich.), Gene Taylor (Miss.) and David Wu (Ore.), as well as Del. Madeleine Bordallo (Guam).

He had already won support from Murtha; his co-chairwoman, Rosa DeLauro (Conn.); and his chief whip, Michael Capuano (Mass.).

The three Democratic Members are vying to succeed Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), who is prevented from seeking a third term as vice chairman in the 110th Congress. Clyburn has announced plans to run for Caucus chairman.

Larson, a Ways and Means Committee member and former ranking member on House Administration, said his whip team shows that his campaign is “represented by every segment of the Caucus” with Members who are “held in high regard and mindful and sensitive to the concerns of many in the Caucus that this race started way too early.”

Because of that, Larson said he is taking a different approach to his candidacy, and will not feel pressure to run his race via the media or public forums.

“I’m going to do what my team and I think is in the best interest of the Caucus,” he said. “I’m going to let my whip team do its job, collect the data and information. My goal is to meet with every Member, and that doesn’t happen overnight. We’re taking the tortoise approach in this race.”

Added Murtha: “Even with John’s late entry into this race, we are confident that there will be a second ballot and we will prevail.”

Larson added that he’s confident that he will ultimately advance to a second ballot and prevail among his colleagues.

If none of the three candidates captures 51 percent of the vote, a runoff ballot would be held. With such a scenario likely, candidates have rushed to seek not only first-round supporters but also privately solicit second-ballot supporters if a Member’s first-choice candidate fails to advance.

Beyond the public announcements for support, the three vice chairman candidates will also begin meeting with different segments of the Caucus in the coming weeks to individually make their case for the position.

Today, the three candidates meet with the Asian Pacific American Caucus, and next week are expected to meet with the freshman class.

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