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Most Liberal House Dem Barbara Lee Wants to Replace Crowley as Caucus Leader

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) speaks at a news conference in Oakland, Calif., on Dec. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

WASHINGTON — Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) has launched a campaign to replace more moderate Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) as leader of the House Democratic Caucus.

Crowley was defeated in his primary by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Lee, an antiwar member of the House Progressive Caucus whose Bay Area district includes Berkeley, was the only member of Congress to vote against retaliatory action after al-Qaeda struck the United States on 9/11. “As we act, let us not become the evil that we deplore,” she said at the time.

Lee was rated the most liberal member of the House in GovTrack’s 2017 ideology rankings. Crowley fell in the middle of the House Dems’ ranking.

In a letter to colleagues today, Lee stressed that “the strength of our caucus lies in our diversity of experiences and ideas.”

“Whether it’s working across the aisle to enact HIV/AIDS laws, or bringing the Sanders and Clinton campaigns together behind a cohesive and progressive Democratic Platform, my career has been dedicated to finding common ground and delivering results,” she wrote. “Over the years, I have fought to lift families out of poverty and empower everyday people. As your Caucus Chair, I will ensure that we hear every view, respect every member, and welcome every voice.”

Lee added that “our caucus is at its best when everyone has an opportunity to contribute and collaborate.”

“My top priority will be offering new ways to engage all members. I will provide robust member services to empower everyone in our caucus and develop more forums to showcase your innovative work,” she continued. “It is important to me to build on Chairman Crowley’s work equipping all offices with the cutting-edge, creative tools — and especially digital resources — to engage directly with constituents.”

“Our caucus has the talent and the vision to improve the lives of all people. We must shine a light on our greatest strengths: our members, our Democratic energy and compassion, and the agenda that reflects our collective vision.”

Lee added that she looked forward “to listening to your ideas, answering your questions and working to earn your vote.”

The congresswoman, 72, has served in the House since 1998. She was chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus from 2008-10. She is currently chairwoman of House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer’s (D-Md.) Task Force on Poverty, Income Inequality, and Opportunity.

If elected by her colleagues, which would represent a run further to the left for the caucus, she would be the first African-American woman to serve in House leadership from either party.

“When you look at the history of the Democratic Party and the Democratic leadership, African-American women … we’ve been the backbone of the Democratic Party — we should be in the face of leadership also,’’ Lee told Politico on Sunday.