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Crowley Adds 3rd Vice Chair in Caucus Bid

After a month of near silence in the House Democrats’ lone contested leadership race, Caucus vice chairman candidate Joe Crowley (N.Y.) on Wednesday expanded the leadership of his whip team by tapping freshman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.) for a third vice chairmanship of his campaign.

Schultz, who rose in profile during the Congressional debate in the Terri Schiavo case, joins Crowley’s two other campaign vice chairmen, Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard (Calif.) and Bart Gordon (Tenn.). Rep. Nita Lowey (N.Y.) is Crowley’s chairwoman.

Along with Schultz, Crowley also named another supporter from the freshman class, Rep. Henry Cuellar (Texas). Crowley said he believes his freshman support, now totaling six Members, is noteworthy because those newcomers — still establishing relationships in the House — can make the most “objective decisions” about whom to support for the vice chairman position.

“The overwhelming support I have from the freshman class is an indication to my colleagues” of the candidate’s strength, Crowley said. “The freshmen are hungry to be in the majority, and that sends a strong message.”

Crowley leads the three-person race for the leadership slot with 42 supporters. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (Ill.) claims 38 supporters, while Rep. John Larson (Conn.) has announced 17 backers.

Both Larson and Schakowsky have said they are continuing to see broadening support within the Caucus and expect to grow their organizations in the coming months.

“Jan’s list of supporters continues to grow,” said Schakowsky spokesman Jon Samuels. “The Members in her organization have been actively working and she looks forward to making public announcements about additional supporters and other campaign developments when the House reconvenes after the Memorial Day recess.”

The three Democratic Members are vying to succeed Rep. James Clyburn (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.

The race could be at least a year and a half away but may occur earlier if a series of events precipitate an early departure by Rep. Bob Menendez (N.J.) as Caucus chairman. Menendez is one of several Democrats who may be tapped to take the place of Sen. Jon Corzine (D), who is running for governor and would appoint his successor.

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