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Politics and Government

Denver’s Diana DeGette withdraws from U.S. House leadership race

The Denver lawmaker blames pressure to keep the three current Democratic leaders in power without opposition

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U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette is withdrawing her bid for House majority whip, the No. 3 post in Democratic leadership.

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Denver.

The veteran Denver lawmaker said Monday she was “heartened” by the support she received but blamed “internal pressure” for the Democrats to align behind the current leaders.

“Over the last few days, however, many of my supporters have expressed concern about pressure they are receiving to return the three senior leaders to their posts without opposition,” she said in a statement. “We have enough work to do without this internal pressure. Therefore, I am withdrawing my bid for whip at this time. 

“I look forward to continuing as chief deputy whip with this exciting new majority. We have a (lot) to do, and I am eager to get started,” she added.

DeGette currently serves as the current chief deputy whip, an appointed position. She announced her bid for the leadership job Nov. 7 — the day after Democrats made huge gains in the midterm elections.

The House majority whip job is currently held by South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, the highest ranking black lawmaker in Congress. And he made clear he wanted to keep his job, complicating DeGette’s effort.

In her pitch, DeGette said the leadership team needed more women, particularly after women voters played such a large role in the Democratic wins in the 2018 election.

But the race became tense amid accusations of what one report suggested was “dog-whistle politics” involving race. The No. 2 Democrat in the House, Maryland’s Steny Hoyer, backed Clyburn. Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi also is seeking to retain her post as the top Democrat.

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