No colleague has yet emerged to challenge her bid.
Clark is part of a semi-formal team running together for the top three House Democratic positions to replace Pelosi and her current deputies, lawmakers all in their eighties who announced they were stepping down Thursday to make room for a new generation of leaders as the party moves into the minority next year.
New York Representative Hakeem Jeffries, 52, is expected to seek the top position, which will be minority leader as the speakership goes the Republicans. Clark is running to be the House minority whip. And California Representative Pete Aguilar, 43, is expected to seek the No. 3 positions. There has been no announced opposition to the trio, who are expected to be installed when House Democrats hold their leadership elections at the end of the month.
While the three have not been formally running as a slate, they have worked together as the lawmakers directly behind the octogenarians at the top of the House Democratic leadership and have steadily drawn the support of their colleagues to ascend in tandem.
As lawmakers anticipated the end of Pelosi’s two-decade reign, in part because of a vague pledge four years ago to step down this year, Clark and her de-facto teammates had been quietly maneuvering to be in position to move up when the opportunity came .
Clark’s House Democratic colleagues credit her as a skilled behind-the-scenes politician, one who knows the value of building relationships. Many call her a friend, describing Clark as warm and engaged even as they note her political toughness.
She was first elected to Democratic leadership in 2018 in a contested race against Aguilar for the party’s vice chair position. In that role and as assistant speaker, to which she rose in 2020, Clark has been closely involved in working with House Democrats, particularly newer members, in work that has earned her a lot of goodwill. Though she is clear that she is a progressive, moderate lawmakers say she has been deft at balancing her own views with the need to include members of all political views in the party, especially in the narrow majority that Democrats have faced the past two years.
Clark has also been a prolific campaigner and fundraiser, traits that are seen as a requirement of party leadership. According to her campaign, Clark traveled to at least 17 states to stump for other lawmakers this election cycle, and raised more than $12 million for Democrats.
Representative Richard Neal, of Springfield, who has served in Congress for decades and been a close Pelosi ally, said that Clark had the talent to be a powerful leader herself.
“She’s going to be smashingly successful,” he predicted Thursday.
Clark on Friday stressed the need for Democrats to be united to counter House Republicans, who will have a razor-thin majority after midterm elections in which they underperformed expectations for a red wave.
“Americans have rejected Republican extremism and affirmed our commitment to working people. By standing with women, for democracy, and for everyone’s economic security, we have defied expectations and secured a historically close margin in the House,” she wrote to her colleagues.
“Now, we must be tough, agile, and united to stop the Republican House Majority’s dangerous agenda and take back the House,” she continued. “I am ready to guide this critical work as our next Democratic Whip, and I ask for your support.”