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Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) are calling for an African-American lawmaker to be granted the No. 1 or No. 2 spot in the House if Democrats win back the majority next week, setting up a potentially messy and dramatic leadership battle on the left.

CBC Chairman Cedric Richmond (D-La.) is circulating a new “Dear Colleague” letter, which was obtained by The Hill and first reported by Politico on Thursday, making that position clear to fellow Democrats. The jockeying is heating up ahead of the Democratic leadership elections that are scheduled for Nov. 28.

“Over the past couple of weeks, several of our colleagues have respectfully shared letters of intent expressing interest in various House Democratic Caucus leadership positions,” Richmond wrote in the letter.

“It is within that context that I’d like to reiterate that if there is any change in our top leadership positions the Democratic Members of the CBC endorse African-American representation in at least one of the two top positions of elected House Democratic Caucus leadership.”

Some Democratic sources are not interpreting the letter as a threat to directly challenge House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) or Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), but instead taking it as indication that the CBC would only make a run if one of those spots became open, pointing to text in the letter that says, “if there is any change in our top leadership positions.”

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