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Hakeem Makes History

By Samantha Alteri

Volume 3 Issue 2

December 23, 2022

Hakeem Makes History

Image provided by NBC News

Congressman Hakeem Jefferies, the Representative of New York’s 8th Congressional District since 2013, was recently selected to serve as the minority leader for House Democrats in the 118th Congress. Representative Jefferies, who currently serves as the Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, is no stranger to leadership positions in the lower house. The former whip of the Congressional Black Caucus and prior co-chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, Jefferies will be the first Black American to lead a major political party in Congress. Jefferies will assume the slot in leadership currently held by Nancy Pelosi, the first female to serve as Speaker of the House.  

Shortly after the 2022 Midterm Elections, Pelosi announced her intention to step down from House leadership, signaling a change in Democratic politics. Not only did Pelosi step down, but the other top two Democratic leaders in the House did as well. Representative Steny Hoyer, the former majority leader representing Maryland’s 5th Congressional District, and James Clyburn, the whip from South Carolina’s 6th Congressional District, stepped down as well. Representative Katherine Clark, who serves as the Congresswoman of Massachusetts’s 5th District, will assume Clyburn’s former role, while Pete Aguilar, the Representative for California’s 31st District, and current Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus, will assume the role of Democratic Caucus Chair. 

The transition to new Democratic leadership in the House represents a generation change for Congress. Current House Democratic leadership members are three decades older than Jefferies. This key move by Democrats was made just a few weeks after a midterm election in which Generation Z voters represented a large portion of the voting block for Democrats. These young, politically active voters moved to elect Democrats on a large scale, with a CNN House exit poll showing 63% of Generation Z voters cast ballots for the left. The move by House Democrats to place younger politicians in key leadership roles may resemble a desire to maintain large numbers of voter participation from this group of young constituents.  

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