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Progressive Caucus Could Move Back to Single Chairperson

I suppose a lot of people here have little use for the Progressive Caucus. I wouldn’t venture to say they covered themselves in glory in this Congress. They still face problems of internal cohesion and discipline, as well as using candidate recruitment and fundraising as a tool for progressive outcomes. I think at least some of this has to do with the fact that they had this weird co-chair setup that diffuses power, and that at least one of these co-chairs, Lynn Woolsey, is just not that effective.

This year, Woolsey is stepping down, and we could see an end to the co-chair apparatus. The race for the leadership position has come down to three:

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 […]

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 two years ago between Grijalva and California’s Lynn Woolsey, the caucus created co-chair positions so they could both serve together. A decision on whether the caucus will be led by two or one members has not yet been made.

I think Grijalva, Edwards or Ellison could potentially flourish in the chairmanship, but they would need a unified message that only a single chair could bring. Rather than who among this pretty decent group gets the nod, I think the main goal should be that it goes to only one of them.

UPDATE: The co-chair system actually pre-dates Grijalva and Woolsey. Woolsey and Barbara Lee served as co-chairs previously. I think that only amplifies the reason why a single chair could be more effective, actually.

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David Dayen

David Dayen