A Binghamton University alumnus is favored to become the next U.S. House of Representatives’ Democratic leader.

On Thursday, Nov. 13, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced she was retiring from her position as leader of the House Democrats. The next day, Hakeem Jeffries, ‘92, the fourth ranked House Democrat representing New York’s 8th Congressional District, announced his uncontested bid to succeed Pelosi, which will be decided on in a House Democrat vote on Nov. 30. Jeffries, who graduated from BU with a bachelor’s degree in political science, has gone on to be the University’s only graduate to have served in the U.S. Congress.

Jeffries is projected to follow Pelosi, the first female party leader in the Congress, as Congress’ first-ever Black party leader. According to a letter written by Jeffries to his Democratic colleagues, the campaign he plans to lead will focus on three categories — “empowering every member” of the caucus, “prioritizing security” of the caucus and “reclaiming the majority” of Americans. Jeffries attributed much of his growth to Pelosi and his other colleagues, who he described as “incredible frontline members.”

“Building upon this track record of leadership experience and collective success, I now look to the future,” Jeffries wrote. “In doing so, I am thankful for the invaluable opportunity I have had to learn from legendary figures like our iconic Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, our resolute Leader, Steny Hoyer and our historic Majority Whip, James Clyburn, who has mentored and nurtured my leadership development from the moment I arrived in Congress.”

Jeffries is serving his fifth term in Congress and is currently chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.

According to Christie Stephenson, communications director for the House Democratic Caucus, Jeffries is one of four representatives to pass nine or more bills in the 117th Congress. Stephenson described Jeffries as an accomplished politician with a comprehensive plan for the Democratic party.

“Chairman Jeffries recognizes the unprecedented nature of the once-in-a-generation moment we face and therefore has taken the time to outline in detail his perspective on the path forward,” Stephenson wrote in an email.

During his time as a student at BU, Jeffries assumed leadership roles and was active in multiple on-campus organizations. This included his role as President of Kappa Alpha Psi, a historically Black fraternity known for community outreach activities, and his membership in the Black Student Union (BSU), according to BingUNews and the Kappa Alpha Psi website.

Jahi Ferguson, public relations chair for the BSU and a junior majoring in biology, said Jeffries made significant contributions to the organization as an undergraduate at BU. Ferguson described Jeffries as a “Black leader” with “admirable traits” and a “dedication and commitment to the improvement of the Black experience in this country,” and said he is optimistic about Jeffries’ political pursuits.

“During his quest toward becoming the first Black leader of the congressional caucus, the Black Student Union would like to wish him nothing but success in his expedition,” Ferguson said. “We know that the skills gained during his time in undergrad as an active member of the Black Student Union and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. will continue to help aid in his success as a Black leader in America.”

Jeffries, who has served as a representative of New York’s Eighth Congressional District since 2013, is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee and the House Budget Committee, according to Jeffries’ office webpage. Examples of legislation he has sponsored include the Student Loan Literacy Act of 2022 and the Prison to Proprietorship for Formerly Incarcerated Act.

While BU President Harvey Stenger has expressed excitement on behalf of the University over Jeffries’ potential “to make history as the next leader of the House Democrats,” some students do not share the same enthusiasm. Tzvi Salzberg, a senior majoring in philosophy, stated his uncertainty as to whether Jeffries is the “best person” to take over leadership of the House Democrats.

“I think it’s a good thing that we’re getting some fresh leadership in the house, and that we’re making the leadership of our party more diverse,” Salzberg said. “However, I think that Jeffries himself may not be the best person given his sort of alignment with the center wing of the Democrats, which seems to be dying out among the younger people.”

Matthew Winston Jr., executive director of alumni engagement, offered the University’s congratulations to Jeffries, describing his congressional career as a “significant achievement” with more accomplishments to come.

“[BU] has watched with great pride and joy Congressman Jeffries’ stellar rise in his public service career,” Winston wrote in an email. “[Jeffries] is a shining example of [BU] graduate success and a role model for other students and alumni to follow.”

Editor’s Note (11/29/22): A previous version of this article stated that Jahi Ferguson was the political correspondent for BSU. Ferguson is the public relations chair for BSU. The article has been updated with the corrected information.