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Hakeem Jeffries favored to lead U.S. House Democrats after Pelosi exit

WASHINGTON, Nov 17 (Reuters) - U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi's decision to step down from her leadership role after her fellow Democrats lost their majority in last week's midterm elections positions Hakeem Jeffries - a liberal congressman from New York - as a likely top contender to lead the party for the next two years.

Jeffries, 52, would be the first Black House Democratic leader, representing both the party's diverse voter base and bringing a new generation of leadership. Pelosi, the first woman to hold the job of speaker, is 82, and two other members of the party's leadership are in their 80s. House Democrats are scheduled to vote on their leaders on Nov. 30.

Jeffries, who has held the leadership post of House Democratic Caucus chairman since 2019, also would represent a stylistic contrast to Pelosi, who made her announcement on Thursday. She has proven in two stints as speaker to be hard-charging whereas he is generally considered more reserved.

"It's Jeffries' to lose," said one House Democratic aide keeping close watch of leadership jostling, who asked not to be identified.

Pelosi and other senior Democrats have been under pressure to give way to a younger generation of Democrats in the 435-seat House.

Some other top Democrats may also covet becoming the top House Democrat.

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