Kaptur Challenges Becerra

Posted November 12, 2008 at 12:15pm

Making the only real ripple in the House Democratic leadership races, Rep. Marcy Kaptur (Ohio) announced Wednesday that she will take on Rep. Xavier Becerra (Calif.) for vice chairman of the Democratic Caucus.

“I can articulate the bread and butter issues that will be most important to the American people,” Kaptur said in a letter to her Democratic colleagues. “As a heartland representative, I can well represent the spectrum of our Caucus.”

Kaptur’s bid for the No. 5 spot runs against the will of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who is openly backing Becerra and has quietly been working to stock the 111th leadership with key loyalists.

Becerra currently serves as assistant to the Speaker.

But Kaptur spokesman Steve Fought said the Ohio Democrat is not worried about challenging Pelosi’s leadership pick.

“There’s no worry because people like races. It’s what it’s all about,” Fought said. “It’s not like the [former Speaker Newt] Gingrich House, where everybody had to walk in lock step. We’re Democrats.”

Fought speculated that Becerra is entering the race with “probably a couple dozen votes in California” and some support in leadership. But there are a lot of Members from the Midwest who feel that they need better representation, he said.

Kaptur, who has been calling Members to shore up support, is targeting three key groups: women, Midwesterners and lawmakers “who share her disdain for NAFTA-style trade agreements,” Fought said.