Upheaval in the Democratic caucus could pave the way for a historic House leader — and some potential names are already being discussed.
By JOHN BRESNAHAN and HEATHER CAYGLE 08/01/2018 05:05 AM EDT
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has said she will run for speaker again, but after 16 years at the top, some lawmakers — and a rising number of Democratic candidates — want someone else to take over.
… The prospect of a black speaker, which seemed like a long shot just months ago, has started to bubble up more in private conversations in recent weeks, particularly among Democrats in the influential, 48-member Congressional Black Caucus.
An obvious problem with this for Democrats is that while black Democratic Senators, such as Barack Obama, Corey Booker, and Kamala Harris, are often seen as Presidential Timber because they had to be good enough to be elected statewide, black Democratic Representatives are usually elected from severely gerrymandered districts concocted to make sure blacks beat white Democrats. (Obama, for example, couldn’t get elected to the House from his district because Bobby Rush was more in tune with the electorate.)
The GOP agreed to this form of race bias in the 1982 Voting Rights Act and has benefited from this over the years, in part by the VRA promoting black politicians to the House who aren’t very appealing to nonblacks. The VRA demands the gerrymandering of highly black districts in which blacks are sure to beat white Democrats, which generally allows the GOP to win narrowly in more districts. Hence, the quality of black Democrats in the House is quite low, as shown by very few ever advancing to higher offices, other than a few winning mayorships, such as Harold Washington in Chicago in 1983. In modern times, the only black Representative to move up from the House to the Senate has been Tim Scott, a Republican.
But Black Entitlement is a forceful emotion these days, so Pelosi being succeeded by Old White Many Steny Hoyer or the like could be a tough sell in January 2019.