Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Rep. Linda Sánchez Takes the Heat

I use Rep. Rep. Linda Sánchez as an example of newer-style Members of Congress and congressional careers. She represents the 38th district, right next to my college, so she's an interesting example to discuss. Some students live in the district. And she's been in Congress since 2003, so she's got considerable seniority. And of course, she's a Latina.

In any case, she spoke out a year ago about Nancy Pelosi's entrenched leadership, and called for generational change. She's totally right, of course, but now she's in the cross hairs apparently. You know Pelosi's a vindictive bitch, so no matter what happens in the November elections, Sánchez is going to be fighting to keep her spot among the top Democrats in the House.

At Politico, "Highest-ranking Latina braces for backlash over Pelosi snub: Rep. Linda Sánchez called for a new generation of Democratic leadership. Her allies fear it might cost her her own spot in the upper echelon":

Forget Nancy Pelosi. The most endangered member of House Democratic leadership is its most recent entrant and the highest-ranking Latina in Congress, Rep. Linda Sánchez.

As vice chairwoman of the Democratic Caucus, Sánchez occupies the obscure No. 5 spot in Democratic ranks, a position deemed the “potted plant” of leadership by veteran lawmakers. But what is normally a launching pad to greater ambitions could be a blunt end to Sánchez’s so-far promising leadership career as some members have her in their cross hairs come November.

For Sánchez, the trouble started last fall when she shocked the caucus by publicly calling for a change in House Democrats’ leadership regime, long led by Pelosi, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland and Assistant Minority Leader Jim Clyburn of South Carolina.

It was a sentiment dozens of lawmakers have shared privately — but it was unheard of for a member of leadership to express to the media.

For her part, a defiant Sánchez shrugged off any potential blowback — even if that includes getting booted from leadership.

“It’s not about me, it’s about the future of the caucus,” Sánchez told Politico. “My ultimate goal is to leave behind a stronger Democratic Caucus with an effective majority because I think that would leave the country better off. That’s my ambition for my congressional career.”

The dilemma facing Sánchez is at the heart of tensions within the Democratic Caucus over its static top leadership. Pelosi and her team have made it clear they want to stay in power if Democrats win back the House in November, but their decade-plus reign has left a wake of frustrated younger members with little room to advance.

Sánchez gave voice to frustrations that most members are comfortable expressing only privately, and lawmakers say they’re watching closely to see whether she pays a price for speaking out.

What happens to Sánchez also has significant implications for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and its influence over leadership. She’s not the only prominent member of the group who might want to move up in the ranks where few slots, if any, might be open.

Rep. Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico could push for a promotion if his stint as chairman of Democrats’ campaign arm helps them win back the House. Other prominent CHC members, including Reps. Joaquin Castro of Texas and Pete Aguilar of California, are also mentioned in the leadership mix, according to members.

Interviews with 20 Democratic lawmakers and aides indicate an overwhelming sense that Sánchez will face a challenge for her leadership post this fall. But opinions are mixed as to whether she’s built up enough loyalty within the caucus to beat back a potential opponent.

So far, no one has stepped forward to say they are planning to challenge Sánchez. And the California Democrat could even have an opportunity to move up if the top three leaders step aside, especially if Democrats underperform in the midterm elections...