Brooklyn Boro

You know the vibes: Brooklynites take lead in Congress

Brooklyn's own Hakeem Jeffries to take House Democratic leadership after Pelosi retirement

November 21, 2022 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries was recently elected to serve as chairperson of the House Democratic Caucus, a high-powered position in Congress. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
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Following former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s announcement to relinquish her leadership role, Brooklyn is poised to further cement itself as not only the political powerhouse of New York, but also the nation. 

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, who hails from Crown Heights and represents Brooklyn in NY’s Congressional District 8, announced his plans to run for House Democratic leader on Friday. 

Rep. Jeffries, who was first elected to the House in 2012, is currently running unopposed–and with Reps. Hoyer and Clyburn (House Majority Leader and Majority Whip, respectively), also relinquishing leadership, is extremely likely to assume top Dem leadership after the Nov. 30th intra party election. 

A Historic ‘New Generation’ of Democratic Leadership

Nancy Pelosi, who has repped California’s 12 CD since 1987, made history as the first woman to be named Speaker, and is likely passing the gavel to another history-making bid, with Rep. Hakeem Jefrries poised to become the first Black leader of a major Party. 

The likely groundbreaking leader will become what Pelosi dubbed “a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus.” Jeffries, who was the fifth highest ranking in the House as chair of the Democratic Caucus, will be joined by younger deputies he’s closely worked with, replacing octogenarians Hoyer and Clyburn’s vacancies.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File

Brooklynites’ Election Wins Increase Borough’s Influence 

Although Democrats lost the House Majority by a slim margin, they kept control of the U.S. Senate, to be led again by Speaker Chuck Schumer, a Park Slope Democrat, who lives less than a mile away from Jeffries. 

With Brooklynites leading the Democratic Senate and House – a historical first – it only increases the borough’s “long overdue influence that reflects the diversity of Brooklyn,” said Assemblymember Rodenyse Bichotte Hermelyn, who is Chair of the Brooklyn Democratic Party.

Hakeem Jeffries and Rodenyse Bichotte Hermelyn. Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Democratic County Committee

Bichotte Hermelyn noted that the Brooklyn Democratic Party is the largest Democratic county Party in the nation, representing over 1.3 million registered Dem. voters. 

Rep. Jeffries is emblematic of the increase in Black elected Brooklynites ascending in New York political leadership, with NYC Mayor Eric Adams, NYS Attorney Tish James, and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams also from the borough. 

“(Brooklyn) is genuinely reflective both of New York City as a whole and also, in some interesting ways, the Democratic Party, nationally,” NYC Comptroller – and fellow Brooklynite – Brad Lander said in a past interview. 

“Brooklyn used to be considered an ‘outer borough’ and now it is the center of the political universe,” added Bichotte Hermelyn, who lauded that Jeffries “has dedicated his entire career to uplifting Brooklynites.”

Although Gov. Kathy Hochul doesn’t hail from Brooklyn, her historical and tight win against GOP contender Lee Zeldin to become NY’s first elected female Governor was largely bolstered by Brooklyn. 

As Bill Clinton said at a City Point rally for Hochul, “the whole election could come down to how big the turnout is in Brooklyn.” And the former President was right: analysis by the NY Post also shows that Hochul garnered a staggering 90% or more votes in many of the city’s predominantly Afro-American and Afro-Caribbean districts, many of which are in Brooklyn.  

A ‘Remarkable Rise’ from Humble Roots

Jeffries, who began his career as a corporate lawyer, first served in the New York State Assembly from 2007 to 2012, representing Brooklyn’s 57th Assembly district (his hometown), quickly ascended to the limelight for his legislative achievements and during his successful run for Congress in 2012, where he defeated political stalwart Charles Barron, and was likened to Barack Obama by the New York Observer. 

“His remarkable rise from humble roots to chair of the House Democratic Caucus is a testament to his skilled leadership, legislative abilities and keen understanding of the needs of his constituents,” said Bichotte Hermelyn. 

Uniting Forward

With the GOP now having a majority in the House, Jeffries, who has been known as a pragmatic leader and a more moderate Democrat, said Sunday that he will unite all points in between” the Democratic spectrum. 

When it comes to the GOP, Jeffries, who served as an impeachment manager for Trump, said he is open to working with Republicans but would not hesitate to attack what he labeled as “extremism” – a nod to fighting the far right and addressing Trump declaring his candidacy for President in 2024.

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