Rachel Cohen writes that the elevation of Hakeem Jeffries to chair of the Democratic House Caucus is a huge victory for the pro-charter school group Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), the hedge fund managers who control large campaign contributions. The purpose of DFER, she writes, was “to break the teacher unions’ stranglehold over the Democratic Party.” The state conventions of the Democratic Party in both California and Colorado adopted resolutions demanding that DFER remove the D from its name and stop co-opting their brand as Democrats, when they were in fact a corporate front.

She writes:

While DFER really began to flex its financial muscles in 2008 — when it raised about $2 million to help elect pro-charter candidates — its earlier work focused primarily on New York. There, the group helped elect Hakeem Jeffries to the New York State Assembly in 2006. (He served in the state Legislature from 2007 to 2012.) In 2007, DFER also helped lobby New York legislators to lift the state’s charter school cap, increasing it from 150 schools to 250. In 2010, Jeffries co-sponsored legislation to raise the state’s charter cap even further, to 460 — where it stands today.

Over the years, Jeffries has become one of DFER’s top candidates. In 2012, when Jeffries announced that he would run for Congress, the group rallied behind him, elevating him to its so-called DFER Hot List. No other Democrat received more in direct DFER contributions that cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics…

While in Congress, Jeffries has stayed close to the charter movement. He’s spoken at fundraisers for Success Academy, the prominent New York City charter network, and in 2016 was the keynote speaker for a large pro-charter rally, organized to pressure Mayor Bill de Blasio to expand charters in New York City.

Cohen says that Hakeem Jeffries is a cousin of Shavar Jeffries, the executive director of DFER.

This story in The Intercept describes how Hakeem Jeffries was elected to a leadership party in the Democratic Party in the House of Representatives.

Ryan Grim writes:

THE ELECTION OF Rep. Hakeem Jeffries as House Democratic Caucus chair on Wednesday represented a symbolic and substantive comeback for the wing of the party that had suffered a stunning defeat last June, when Rep. Joe Crowley was beaten by primary challenger Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Jeffries, who represents a Brooklyn district next door to Crowley’s, bested Rep. Barbara Lee of California, who had the support of the insurgent movement that had ousted Crowley.

A protege of Crowley’s, Jeffries is heavily backed by big money and corporate PACs. Less than 2 percent of his fundraising comes from small donors, who contribute less than $200, according to Federal Election Commission records.

The outgoing caucus chair, Crowley played an integral role in Jeffries’s election. It’s extremely unusual for the caucus chair to leave his position having lost in a primary (and it has always been a man). But as is tradition, Crowley chaired Wednesday’s election proceedings, as he remains a member of Congress through the lame duck session. On the night of his primary loss, Crowley played a song at his watch party — “Born to Run” — and dedicated it to the insurgent who’d beaten him, Ocasio-Cortez. On Wednesday, with Ocasio-Cortez in the room, he sang the caucus a number, but this time it was what multiple members said sounded like an Irish funeral song. The mood was somber, as the caucus mourned the departure of a man New York Rep. Brian Higgins later called “the most popular guy on campus.”

Crowley, though, wasn’t going gently into the night. In the run-up to the vote, he told a number of House Democrats that Lee had cut a check to Ocasio-Cortez, painting her as part of the insurgency that incumbents in Congress feel threatened by, according to Democrats who learned of the message Crowley was sharing.

There was a kernel of truth in the charge. Lee’s campaign did indeed cut a $1,000 check to the campaign of Ocasio-Cortez, but did so on July 10, two weeks after she beat Crowley. Since then, Reps. Steny Hoyer, Raúl Grijalva, and Maxine Waters, as well as the PAC for the Congressional Progressive Caucus, have all given money to Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign committee. It’s not an unusual phenomenon — a way to welcome an incoming colleague — but Crowley’s framing of it linked Lee to the growing insurgent movement, despite her decades of experience in Congress. Reached for comment, a spokesperson for Crowley did not respond to The Intercept’s questions about his involvement in the leadership race.

After Wednesday’s election, in which Jeffries prevailed 123-113, The Intercept asked Lee if she had heard what Crowley had told other Democrats. “Those rumors took place and that was very unfair,” Lee said. “We’re moving forward now.”

She added, however, that the insinuation that she had supported Ocasio-Cortez during her primary against Crowley was patently false, because Lee wasn’t even aware of Ocasio-Cortez’s challenge. “I didn’t even know he had a primary,” Lee said of the under-the-radar contest that resulted in Crowley’s startling loss.

While Lee has not encouraged primaries against her colleagues and has worked closely with party leadership in her time in the House, her iconoclastic image, rooted in her lone vote against authorizing the use of military force in the days after 9/11, meant that the caricature resonated, as Crowley no doubt knew it would. Indeed, it’s a charge some Democrats in Congress are ready to believe — and some outside supporters of Lee were hoping was true — as Lee is something of a hero among the incoming class of insurgents, and Ocasio-Cortez floated Lee’s name for speaker in June and later endorsed her bid for caucus chair. Rep. Ro Khanna of California, who is also closely associated with the insurgent wing of the party, was an early and vocal supporter of Lee. “She’s the single profile of courage in the House,” Khanna said Wednesday. “John Lewis is a profile in courage for his life. Barbara Lee is for her vote.”

Higgins, the New York representative who backed Jeffries, suggested that Crowley had a hand in nudging Jeffries into the race against Lee. “Hakeem is going to be around for a long time. Our good friend Joe Crowley was defeated. I think Joe probably mentored him a little bit toward this,” said Higgins.

Asked if that meant Crowley, who is closing out his 10th term in Congress, encouraged Jeffries to run against Lee, Higgins responded in general terms. “To what extent, I don’t know, but I do know that he’s a mentor and I think he helped him develop a strategy to succeed,” said Higgins. “Here’s what I know. Joe Crowley is the most popular guy on campus, with Democrats and Republicans. Joe has had a close relationship with Hakeem.”

Waleed Shahid, a spokesman for Justice Democrats, which backed Ocasio-Cortez, said Crowley’s move was “absolutely despicable” and all the more reason to continue targeting Democrats who undermine a progressive agenda. “This is exactly why we need more primaries — to have a Democratic Party that fights for its voters, not corporate donors,” he said.