House Leadership Race Is Between Two Women of Color from California

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Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) (left) attends a news conference about the budget on Capitol Hill July 21, 2015 in Washington, DC. Rep. Linda Sanchez, (D-CA) (right) participates in a news conference on Capitol Hill, May 21, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

A woman of color will be elected to join House leadership this week for the first time, and she’ll be a Democrat from California.

While most attention in Washington is focused on whether House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) will beat back a challenge in the Wednesday leadership election, House Democrats will also choose between Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Whittier) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) for vice chair of the Democratic Caucus.

Neither Sanchez, a longtime leader and current chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, or Lee, a longtime leader and former chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, says she’s focused on the historic nature of the race. Several House members said they weren’t even aware of it.

So the race for a low-level leadership position may seem like inside baseball, but there are few spots available on the Democratic team right now, and those who hold the lower positions are the most likely to move up when Pelosi and House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) give up the positions they’ve held for nearly two decades.

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