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Nancy Pelosi is stepping down as a party leader. Here's who might replace her

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks with Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) during a news conference with House Democrats about the Build Back Better legislation, outside of the Capitol in 2021.
Drew Angerer
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Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks with Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) during a news conference with House Democrats about the Build Back Better legislation, outside of the Capitol in 2021.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Thursday her plans to step down from party leadership and remain in the chamber representing San Francisco. Now all eyes are on the open position of House minority leader and who may fill the spot.

"I hope the next leader is one who recognizes the beauty and brilliance of our diversity as a nation. I love how she talked about women in leadership during her speech. I loved how she mentioned the diversity of the incoming class," said New York Rep. Jamaal Bowman, referencing a speech Pelosi gave on the floor earlier in the day. "And another theme of her speech was coming together. And that's what I hope the next speaker does."

Some rank-and-file Democrats have been calling for a shakeup in the current roster of leaders, a new generation to replace Pelosi, 82, who has led the caucus for 20 years, as well as current House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., who are also in their 80s.

Pelosi is not the only one to step aside. Hoyer announced he will not seek an elected leadership position for the 118th Congress.

"I think it's time for new leadership and I think we have excellent opportunities. Very frankly, I think I could be elected, that was not the issue," Hoyer said. "I think it's always good for a party to have new blood and new invigoration, enthusiasm and new ideas."

House Democrats are expected to hold leadership elections at the end of this month. Announcements from members for a bid are sure to come.

Here's who to watch for:

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, 52, has long been believed to be one of the next in line should Pelosi step aside. Jeffries has served as chair of the Democratic caucus since 2019, was an impeachment manager during the first impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump and would be the chamber's first Black Democratic leader, if elected. Both he and the Senate Democratic leader hail from Brooklyn, and Jeffries is known for quoting famous Brooklynite, rapper the Notorious B.I.G., in his floor speeches.

Hoyer sent a letter to Democratic members on Thursday issuing his endorsement for Jeffries to be minority leader.

Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass., meets with reporters before the House votes to pass a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package in 2021. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., right, and Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., listen.
J. Scott Applewhite / AP
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AP
Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass., meets with reporters before the House votes to pass a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package in 2021. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., right, and Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., listen.

Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, 59, is expected to be a strong contender to be the next minority whip. Clark most recently served as assistant speaker during this congressional session and worked alongside Pelosi as the two women in party leadership.

Rep. Pete Aguilar of California, 43, is expected to be a contender for caucus chair — Jeffries' current role. Aguilar, who currently serves as the Democratic Caucus Vice Chair, is the highest ranking Latino in Congress and gained more prominence as a member of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the capitol.

Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA) delivers remarks during the third hearing by the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol in June.
Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images
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Getty Images
Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA) delivers remarks during the third hearing by the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol in June.

Jim Clyburn also issued a statement generally supporting all three, though he has not yet announced whether or not he is rerunning.

Reps. Ami Bera and Tony Cárdenas, both from California, have already announced campaigns to run the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democrats' campaign arm, for the 2024 election. The DCCC's former chair, New York Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, lost his bid for reelection.

Deirdre Walsh, Susan Davis and Lexie Schapitl contributed to this report.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: November 21, 2022 at 12:00 AM EST
A previous caption incorrectly said Rep. Pete Aguilar represents Massachusetts. He represents California.
Ximena Bustillo
Ximena Bustillo is a multi-platform reporter at NPR covering politics out of the White House and Congress on air and in print.
Lexie Schapitl is a production assistant with NPR's Washington Desk, where she produces radio pieces and digital content. She also reports from the field and assists with production of the NPR Politics Podcast.