Fresh off a string of legislative victories by Democrats in Congress, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries says he’s upbeat about the November elections, declaring there is “no circumstance” where there will be a “Republican landslide.”
During an extended conversation Wednesday with reporters, the House Democratic Caucus chair touted the recent flurry of activity on Capitol Hill, including the passage of the Democrat’s long-sought climate, healthcare, and tax bill, which Congress approved without a single Republican vote.
“I believe that we’re going to hold the House and pick up seats in the United States Senate,” he said.
The Brooklyn Democrat’s upbeat assessment is at odds with the forecasts of many analysts, at least until recently, who cited the Democrats paper-thin majority in the House, President Joe Biden’s low approval ratings, and the tendency of a president’s party faring poorly in midterm elections, as factors making a Republican takeover of the House likely.
The future of House Democratic leadership
With the start of the next congressional term now just months away, questions remain as to what the future of House Democratic leadership will look like.
The current top three Democrats — Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Steny Hoyer, and Rep. James Clyburn — are all in their 80s, and so far have not laid out their plans.
Jeffries, the caucus’ fifth highest ranked member, is an early favorite to be the next Democratic leader. He said there “have been no conversations” about what comes next.
“Silence until after November,” he said. “It would be irresponsible for people to put their ambitions and aspirations that are personal in nature above the collective cause of getting big things done for everyday Americans and winning in November.”
Last month, the Washington Post reported that Rep. Adam Schiff was exploring a possible bid to lead House Democrats.
Asked for his thoughts on that report, he referred the question to Schiff.
“My focus is going to be on doing the best job that I can as caucus chair,” he said.
Questions about whether President Joe Biden should run for re-election have sparked internal squabbling among Democrats, including notably at a debate, sponsored by NY1, of the candidates running in New York’s 12th Congressional District Democratic primary.
Jeffries has said that he believes Biden should seek reelection, pointing to the president’s recent string of legislative wins, on gun safety reforms, the climate and drug prices package, and investments in domestic semiconductor production.
“The notion that he shouldn’t be thinking about reelection is a strange question that people will probably stop asking at this point in time,” he said.
This month, voters across New York are heading to polls for congressional primaries.
Jeffries, like most of his colleagues in the New York delegation, is not picking sides in the newly redrawn 10th Congressional District, which includes lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn.
However, speaking to reporters Wednesday, he did praise members of the vast Democratic field as “highly qualified … to represent the district,” naming Council Member Carlina Rivera, prosecutor Dan Goldman, Rep. Mondaire Jones, and Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon directly.
Further upstate in New York’s 19th Congressional District, voters will decide who will briefly replace Antonio Delgado, who became lieutenant governor earlier this year. In the special election, Democrat Pat Ryan is putting an abortion rights message front and center, while Republican Marc Molinaro focuses on crime and the economy.
Jeffries downplayed how much to read into the results and whether they provide a signal for November.
“It’s hard to draw a conclusion based on what may happen in a special election in the middle of August during a redistricting year when voters are massively confused,” he said.