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After Joe Crowley Defeat, Anti-War Progressive Barbara Lee Considers Bid for House Democratic Chair

"Barbara Lee is one of the most remarkable and visionary members of Congress our country has ever had, and she more than anyone should be a member of Democratic leadership in the House."

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) accepts the Elizabeth Taylor Legislative Leadership Award at the AIDSWatch 2016 Positive Leadership Award Reception at the Rayburn House Office Building on February 29, 2016 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Paul Morigi/Getty Images for The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation)

Democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's "seismic" landslide victory over the corporate-friendly war hawk Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) will soon leave the top leadership post in the House Democratic Conference vacant, and anti-war progressive Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) is reportedly considering running for the job.

"Barbara Lee is one of the bravest and most underrated members of Congress."
—Osita Nwanevu, Slate
"The majority of the country wants to see Democrats unified, but speaking with one voice on healthcare, affordable housing, fair wages, and climate change," Lee told the Washington Post's Dave Weigel, who first reported on Lee's potential run on Thursday. "I could bring a vision to this job based on my work with different caucuses—my time as co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, my record with the Congressional Black Caucus."

A career-long member of the Democratic Party's left-most wing, Lee is a strong supporter of Medicare for All and was the only member of Congress to vote against the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that launched the so-called "war on terror," which to this day continues to expand throughout the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa with disastrous consequences.

Lee also voted against the 2002 Iraq Resolution, which provided congressional backing for the Bush administration's catastrophic and illegal invasion that killed over a million people.

Crowley, by contrast, voted yes on both.

Progressives greeted Lee's possible run for a leadership role with enthusiasm, citing her consistent and brave commitment to progressive values.

"That's good news!" RoseAnn DeMoro, former executive director of National Nurses United, wrote in response to the Washington Post report. "She is not a corporate Democrat."

"Barbara Lee is one of the most remarkable and visionary members of Congress our country has ever had, and she more than anyone should be a member of Democratic leadership in the House," added Hamid Bendaas, deputy communications director for Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.).

While Lee told Weigel she is only interested in running for House Democratic Conference chair—an election that will take place after the November midterms—her name has been floated as a possible progressive successor to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

After refusing to commit to backing Pelosi as House Speaker if Democrats retake the House in November, Ocasio-Cortez suggested one alternative choice in an interview with the Post.

"I'd like to see new leadership, but I don't even know what our options are," she said. "I mean, is Barbara Lee running? Call me when she does!"

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