Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is planning to run for Congress in New York’s 17th district, sources familiar with her thinking tell The Chronicle. Longtime Westchester County Rep. Nita Lowey, currently the chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, is retiring at the end of her current term.
Clinton has been privately discussing the possibility of succeeding Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House. At the beginning of the current Congress, Pelosi committed to some dissenting members of the Democratic caucus that she would retire following the 2020 elections to allow for a change in leadership. Until recent days, it was thought that South Carolina’s James Clyburn would be Pelosi’s eventual successor.
Given the impeachment debacle — widely seen as a strategic blunder for the ages among statured politicos on Capitol Hill — the Democrats may have to dump Pelosi prior to the elections in order to retain control of the House. It’s thought that a leadership transition before the election would allow for a brand and messaging pivot that is necessary to retain key suburban swing districts.
The Constitution doesn’t require that the Speaker of the House is elected as a member of that body, only that he or she is elected by a majority of the House members. Clinton doesn’t need a district to serve as Speaker. That means Hillary could begin whipping votes to become Speaker while folks are voting in Iowa and New Hampshire, and she could assume the office as soon as she secures a majority of the 193 Democrat’s currently serving in the House.
Meanwhile, Pelosi and Lowey are planning a series of massive infrastructure bills, designed to save swing-district freshmen. They are planning to allocate the spending in the form of earmarks in the appropriations committee.
They figure their swing district members will be able to better claim credit for the infrastructure investments if they can credit Pelosi and Lowey for architecting the spending bill — as opposed to the more sweeping reforms to infrastructure finance that have been proposed by President Donald J. Trump‘s administration.
In recent weeks, State Senator David Calucci has announced that he plans to seek the 17th district seat and he has been rounding up endorsements from local labor leaders — but it’s thought that he will step aside for the former First Lady when she announces her plans in early January.
“There is not one single New Yorker on the political scene who has the national stature to step into the role of Speaker — and with it, to bring home a massive amount if infrastructure money at a time when the MTA has never been needier,” explains one Democrat with close ties to the Clintons.
“I think the New York delegation will be 100% behind her. I can’t imagine a single defection,” she adds. “Even AOC knows that the only person on the planet with the political skill to get NYCHA rebuilt lives in Chappaqua.”