POLITICAL ARENA

Dems battle for Engel's chairmanship

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U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel hasn’t left Washington quite yet, but some Democrats are scrambling to try and take control of the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee he chairs.

One of the leading contenders is U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman of California, telling lobbying group Democratic Majority for Israel that he would be a perfect successor to because he would “defend Israel with the same zeal that Engel has,” according to Mondoweiss.

“You went to bat for Eliot Engel in a huge way, and demonstrated that you understood how important that chairmanship is,” Sherman reportedly told members of the lobbying group.

“Eliot Engel was a Plan A. I strongly supported him. But now I’m going to try to ask you to go with Plan B. And I won’t compare myself to my good friend Eliot Engel, except to say that when it comes to having one’s heart in the right place, Eliot and I are in the exact same place.”

The chairmanship is expected to open at the beginning of next year after Engel was upset in the Democratic primary by former public school administrator Jamaal Bowman. If he wins the general election in November, as expected, Bowman won’t expect to win any major committee chairs since he’s brand new, and wasn’t exactly House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s first choice.

Sherman hails from the greater Los Angeles area, first elected to Congress in 1997. He already serves with Engel on the Foreign Affairs Committee. But if he wants Bronx congressman’s chairmanship, he may have to outlast challenges from Queens congressman Gregory Meeks and Texas representative Joaquin Castro, according to Mondoweiss.

Castro, whose twin brother Julian ran for president last year, is considered the most progressive of the three, believing the United States should provide military aid to Israel, but not unconditionally.

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