POLITICS

Rep. Xavier Becerra said to be preparing for next House leadership post

Democratic Caucus Chair U.S. Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA)  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Democratic Caucus Chair U.S. Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)  (2012 Getty Images)

With just a year left in the term-limited post of House Democratic Caucus chairmanship, Rep. Xavier Becerra, known for being ambitious, already seems to be eyeing his next leadership move, Politico reports.

Becerra, of California, has been inviting Democrats from Congress to dinner and making other kinds of overtures that some find intriguing, saying that they’ve never been chummy with the lawmaker.

Some familiar with Becerra’s moves speculate he may be hoping to be the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, which is a powerful panel, or that he may be entertaining challenging Minority Whip Steny Hoyer.

“You get to this point, and it’s your only play. You have to have a lightning strike or be resigned to the back benches,” Politico quoted a senior Democratic lawmaker it did not name. “It almost doesn’t matter what title he is putting into people’s head … it gets people to start thinking about the consolation prize.”

Many Democrats and Republicans who hold leadership positions don’t move out of them easily if there are no term limits. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, of California, for instance, has been the House Democratic leader since 2003. Becerra actually has mentioned going for Pelosi’s post if the opportunity presented itself.

Some think Becerra would be ideal for the Budget Committee, an important panel in the House, because he is known as a numbers geek, Politico said. Then again, Becerra, who mulled a run for retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer's seat, also is considered a possible candidate to succeed Sen. Dianne Feinstein in 2018 if she retires, Politico said.

Becerra has not been coy about campaigning, directly or indirectly, for support from his Democratic brethren for a potential run for a leadership post in Congress someday.

He’s enlisted some colleagues, such as Rep. Filemon Vela, Jr. of Texas, to put together dinners with lawmakers Becerra does not have close ties with, Politico reported.

“I am helping Congressman Becerra raise for other members,” Vela said. “I have folks back home who help me raise money for members all across the country. It’s coordinating some of that for Congressman Becerra.”

Becerra has more than established his leadership chops.

He was chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and has had senior positions on important House committees.

Becerra, 57, has been in the House since 1992.

To be sure, there are other Democrats waiting in the wings for leadership posts to become available – they include fellow Latinos Rep. Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico, and Rep. Linda Sánchez, the CHC chair.

“He’s never naturally come up through the ranks,” said a Hispanic lawmaker of Becerra. “Having a job created for him, I would think, that would be his best bet. He’s not going to get Ways and Means and running against Steny Hoyer that would be suicidal. But the problem is, if there is a Latino running, do you need to create a job?”

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