WASHINGTON — Rep. Keith Ellison’s bid to lead the Congressional Progressive Caucus will face a challenge from at least two members: Maryland sophomore Donna Edwards and one of the two current co-chairs — Arizona Rep. Raúl Grijalva.
The CPC is the the largest ideological caucus in Congress and acts as the bastion of the left in the House. In the next session of Congress, it will surely hold at least a plurality and may even represent a majority of House Democrats. At present, Ellison is the only Minnesota member.
Grijalva hails from a border district in Arizona and his most prominent focus has been on immigration. Grijalva survived a nailbiter of an election that experts say would have otherwise been safe after comments that people should boycott Arizona over its controversial immigration enforcement law.
Edwards is entering her second term in the House but made an early impression during the health reform debate. Her suburban Washington D.C. district is one of the most affulent majority-minority districts in the nation.
All three are leaders in the caucus now. Grijalva is a co-chairman and both Ellison and Edwards are vice-chairs.
In addition to who the winner might be, there is also some question over how many winners there will be.
In order to equitably settle a close race for chair four years ago, the caucus created co-chair positions so the two candidates could both serve together. That continued last sessino to allow Grijalva and California’s Lynn Woolsey to serve together. A decision on whether the caucus will be led by two or one members has not yet been made.
Grijalva didn’t ask for a settlement of that question in a letter announcing his candidacy, instead urging members to elect him to “Chair/Co-Chair the Congressional Progressive Caucus for the 112th Session.”
Update: Grijalva’s office e-mails to clarify that the co-chair split was four years ago, not two years ago. This post has been updated to reflect that. – DW