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Pete Aguilar Announces Bid for Democratic Caucus Vice Chair Against Katherine Clark

Democrats have their second contested leadership race for the 116th Congress

Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., is running for Democratic Caucus vice chair. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., is running for Democratic Caucus vice chair. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats officially have their second contested leadership race, with California Rep. Pete Aguilar announcing Tuesday that he plans to run for Democratic Caucus vice chair. 

Aguilar will face Massachusetts Rep. Katherine Clark, who announced her plans to run for the position in July.  

The vice chair role will be open next year because its current occupant, California Rep. Linda Sánchez is running for caucus chair against yet another California Democrat, Rep. Barbara Lee.  New York Rep. Joe Crowley, the current caucus chairman, lost his primary and thus won’t be returning to Congress next year.

Aguilar, whip for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, is probably best known for his efforts to find a legislative solution for so-called Dreamers, young undocumented immigrants that could face deportation if President Donald Trump’s efforts to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program ultimately succeed in court.

He worked with California Republican Rep. Jeff Denham on a discharge petition to force a series of floor votes on various DACA solutions, but that effort ultimately fell short because not enough Republicans signed the petition.

“Thanks to the hard work of Democrats across the country, we are experiencing an outpouring of support for an agenda that puts working people first, expands access to affordable health care, and roots out the corruption that plagues Washington,” Aguilar said in a statement. “I’m running for Caucus Vice Chair because I believe that all Members of the Democratic Caucus should have a seat at the table as we work to advance that agenda.”

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Aguilar said he would focus on increasing cooperation within the caucus and providing excellent service to members. 

The Democratic caucus will hold leadership elections for the next Congress sometime in December. 

With “a firm belief that the strength of our Caucus lies in our diversity, I believe I can play a role to help the Caucus as we work to enact policies that work for the American people in the 116th Congress,” he said.

Both Aguilar and Clark would fulfill what some House Democrats see as a need for the next generation of leaders to step up.

Aguilar, 39, was elected in 2014 and Clark, 55, in a 2013 special election. 

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