Running for leader of his party on oversight is a gamble for Raskin, cutting the caucus’ penchant for doling out plum posts based on seniority. But amid the potential for a broader post-election reshuffle of the Democratic leadership — after years of lawmakers privately discussing the inability to rise in rank as octogenarians fill leadership positions — Raskin could see his offer strengthened as a range of young members jump up the ranks.
“We have a wonderful predicament with three great people running for this, but Jamie’s special,” Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), who whips for Raskin, said in a brief interview. He called the Marylander “the whole package”.
Each of the three Democrats who battled for the top spot on the committee — which opened after current chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (DN.Y.), 76, lost her primary — also began assembling their own teams of whips, looking to secure the early support of their colleagues. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (DN.Y.), who beat Maloney in a hard-fought primary, is among those whipping Raskin.
Each side has their work cut out for them. Maloney does not plan to endorse, she told POLITICO, and several members of the oversight committee have yet to endorse a candidate. The November election could also rattle hard-core Democrats who will make recommendations on who gets the spot.
Raskin said in an interview that he respects the “principle of seniority”, but that to assume that the most senior member should automatically be president is a “rebuttable presumption”. This should be true “unless there is a compelling reason to go in another direction”, he added.
“I think it will be a caucus judgment on the character of the times we find ourselves in and whose particular experience and preparation is most indicated by the times,” Raskin added.
Both Connolly and Lynch entered the race ahead of Raskin. Although they are more experienced on the committee and have emphasized this when announcing their offers, they are not campaigning on this as their main asset.
Raskin, Lynch and Connolly are each the chairs of subcommittees – overseeing civil rights and civil liberties; national security; and Government Operations, respectively – and their current positions highlight some of the different purposes they would bring to the full committee.
Lynch, for example, said he wants to prioritize voting reforms next year and pointed to his experience with hands-on investigations. He led congressional trips to Eastern Europe and to the Ukrainian border to build congressional support for Kyiv, combining those visits with hearings and requests for information about Russia.
“I think getting out there and helping the members understand … that the function of the committee, which is the heart and soul of how it works, is something that I probably have an advantage in,” Lynch said. , who described the race as a “jump ball”. .”
Asked about being the longest-serving Democrat on the panel running for the top spot, Lynch said he thinks seniority is “a factor” but “I don’t think it’s the biggest factor.” most important. It was in the past, but I don’t know if it’s now.
Connolly said he thought Raskin had done a “tremendous job” with his work on the Jan. 6 select committee, but argued Oversight had a “slightly different mission”.
“We deal with the machinery of government. And it’s very granular oversight that can seem arcane, but often these issues are tied to much bigger things,” Connolly, whose state has a significant number of public servants, said in a brief interview.
Connolly previously lost to Maloney in the 2019 race for the Oversight Committee’s top spot. Lynch also ran that year, but dropped out before the caucus vote. Among those supporting Connolly are Foreign Affairs Chairman Gregory Meeks (DN.Y.) and Reps. Susan Wild (D-Pa.) and Don Beyer (D-Va.), while Lynch pointed to the Financial Services Chair Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Reps. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) and Lori Trahan (D-Mass.) among those supporting him.
Raskin joined the House in 2017, Connolly in 2009 and Lynch in 2001. But Raskin has had more time in the national spotlight than his opponents, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi has given him some of the most politically sensitive assignments in recent years. .
Pelosi named Raskin lead impeachment officer for Trump’s second trial, which came just weeks after a crowd of the former president’s supporters stormed the Capitol and disrupted the official victory tally. of President Joe Biden’s electoral college. Rep. Mikie Sherrill (DN.J.), another Raskin whip, said her effectiveness in the position “impressed” her.
Months later, Pelosi called on Raskin for the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, a high-level pole vault that found him and eight other panel members setting off a steady stream of bombshells from the sustained attempts. by Trump to cancel the 2020 election.
“Becoming Chairman of Oversight and Government Reform embodies the breadth of his work. He’s not just an impeacher. He’s not just a member of the 1/6 committee. He’s someone who educated all of us in this country about our democracy, our Constitution,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.), who spoke to members on Raskin’s behalf.
If the Democrats lose the House, as expected, whoever succeeds Maloney would be the ranking member — and would be at the forefront of countering GOP investigations into everything from Hunter Biden’s business dealings to handling the pandemic. by the White House. Raskin, in his own letter to colleagues last month, noted that the party was “still in the fight of our lives to defend American constitutional democracy.”
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) — while emphasizing that she was speaking for herself and not the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which she chairs — said she was “very supportive” of Raskin.
“I think he would be an incredible president either in the majority, where we have a lot of oversight to do, or … if we were in the minority, he would be a fantastic advocate for democracy,” Jayapal said, adding that Raskin has “so much respect throughout the caucus.
Rep. Ro Khanna (D-California), who also backs Raskin, said his work on impeachment and the Jan. 6 panel gave him “moral authority” he could bring to the caucus’ top spot on oversight. .
“I think people see, in Jamie’s case, that he would be so perfect for the role that he has a chance to overcome the institutional preference for seniority,” Khanna said.
Sarah Ferris contributed to this report.