Jeffries bypasses two Californians in his pick for House Democrats’ campaign arm

Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.).
(Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)

Incoming House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday named Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) to chair House Democrats’ campaign arm, bypassing the two Californians who were actively seeking the post.

“She is the right leader, with the right experience and the right demeanor to meet this pivotal moment,” said Jeffries, who next month will take the reins from outgoing House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco).

His decision is a blow to Reps. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove) and Tony Cárdenas (D-Pacoima), who both had expressed interest in the job. They had declared their candidacy for the post when it was still among the party leadership positions decided by a caucus-wide election.


But last month Democrats decided instead to give Jeffries the authority to select a DCCC head, subject to confirmation by the full caucus.

Cárdenas was first to jump in to the DCCC race, leaning on his record-breaking fundraising at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ campaign arm, BOLD PAC, in a Nov. 11 letter to colleagues.

Bera declared his candidacy days later, highlighting his experience inside the DCCC as its frontline chair, who was responsible for protecting vulnerable incumbents in battleground districts.

Their race took an ugly turn, particularly amid House Democratic leadership elections that were unusually civil this year.

Critics of Cárdenas recirculated reports about a 2019 lawsuit that alleged he had years earlier molested a 16-year-old girl.

Cárdenas had denied the allegations and the woman later dropped the lawsuit.

Bera’s candidacy also came with some baggage as his opponents resurfaced reports that his father had been sentenced in 2016 after prosecutors tracked “at least $260,000 in illegal contributions funneled through donors but secretly paid by the elder Bera through multiple bank accounts used to further cover his tracks,” The Times reported.


DelBene’s appointment adds another woman to the House Democratic leadership team, which includes incoming Minority Whip Katherine Clark (D-Mass.).

She won a special election in 2012 to succeed former Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), who became governor.

“Democrats are dedicated to showing Americans that governance can work, advancing the policies that will make a difference to families, workers and communities, and pushing back against MAGA Republican extremism and chaos,” DelBene said in a statement Tuesday.