Barbara Lee on Losing Dem Caucus Chair: I ‘Absolutely’ Think Ageism, Sexism Played Role in Loss

Rep. Barbara Lee (Left)/ Getty Images

Rep. Barbara Lee (D., Calif.) on Wednesday attributed her loss in the Democratic caucus chair race to ageism and sexism, saying she "absolutely" believes she lost because of discrimination.

Earlier in the morning, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D., N.Y.) defeated Lee, a fellow Congressional Black Caucus member, with a vote of 123-113. The Democratic Caucus chair is the fifth most powerful position in House Democratic leadership.

Huffington Post reporter Matt Fuller asked Lee, 72, after the loss whether she believed "ageism or sexism played a part in this race."

"Well, I think you heard and saw what took place. So I absolutely think that’s the case," Lee said.

The 48-year-old Jeffries was then asked to respond to Lee's comment. He dismissed Lee's response, saying he believed the race was a "friendly competition of ideas."

Fuller followed up by asking him why ageism didn't have anything to do with the race since he talked about "generational change" during the campaign, to which Jeffries said "everyone made their own assessment."

Jeffries appeared on MSNBC's "Meet the Press Daily" on Monday, where he told fill-in host Katy Tur that he has "nothing but respect for Barbara Lee" but he believed he was in a better position to "help the caucus maintain its message, discipline, the operational unity, get things done on behalf of the American people."

Tur asked about some of the Democratic leaders, including Lee, being older and whether Jeffries believed there needed to be somebody younger in a leadership position.

"I made clear I'm not running against anyone," Jeffries said. "I am running for the House leadership position."

Jeffries has been in office since 2013 and Lee, since 1998.