This item has been updated.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has selected Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.) to serve as the next chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, a plum assignment heading into a 2016 political cycle that is expected to be much more beneficial for Democrats.
Pelosi plans to make the decision official on Monday afternoon, but previewed her pick in an interview with The Washington Post, saying that Lujan "is really a focused operational person. He understands that getting out the vote is what this is and how we message to our base and how we message across the board to the persuadables and the rest."
"I’m choosing him because of his political astuteness, and he can manage all of this very well," she said during an interview in her office at the U.S. Capitol.
Pelosi is expected to be easily reelected as House minority leader when Democrats meet behind closed doors on Tuesday morning to begin their leadership elections for the next Congress. Her lieutenants, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) also are expected to win another term atop the caucus.
Lujan, 42, will be a fresh and much younger face among top House Democrats. Lujan, who will be the first Latino ever to hold the job of party campaign chairman, begins his fourth term in Congress in January. He is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and a vice chairman with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, leading the group's political action committee with a focus on helping more Latinos win seats in Congress.
The congressman's father, Ben Lujan, once served as speaker of the New Mexico House of Representatives and his cousin is Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.), another member of New Mexico's congressional delegation.
Pelosi also detailed plans Monday to fill out her leadership team. She will give outgoing DCCC chairman, Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), the newly created position of chairman of policy and communications -- essentially a leading messaging role for the caucus. Israel has led the DCCC through the last two political cycles, during which the party failed to retake the majority, losing at least eight seats this year.
Two loyal Pelosi allies, Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Donna Edwards (D-Md.), will be tapped to serve as co-chairmen of the caucus's policy and steering committee. The influential roles give longtime Pelosi friend DeLauro and Edwards, who is considered a rising star and potentially future statewide candidate in Maryland, the job of determining which party members will serve on key committees next year.
Lujan is a dark-horse candidate to lead the DCCC, someone who’s name hadn’t been floated publicly in recent days. Other names mentioned included Rep. Joseph Kennedy III (D-Mass.), who asked that his name be withdrawn from consideration. Others included Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), who served as the committee’s finance chairman for the past two years, and Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.), a freshman member whose brother, Julian Castro, is serving as secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
Pelosi called Himes “a wonderful person” who did “better than anybody” in assuring that Democrats gave money to the DCCC for the election cycle. She met with Castro last Thursday about the role, but disputed news reports that she was on the verge of picking him.
“I read about it in the paper. Or not in the paper – but people were calling me saying ‘I hear you’re going to announce Joaquin.’ I’ve never had a conversation with Joaquin about this, he’s never told me he’s interested,” she said.
She said she spoke with and selected Lujan “in the last few days.”
During the interview, Pelosi said that she has no plans to relinquish her leadership position until Democrats retake control of the House.
"I could have walked away, but we built something and then we want to take it to the next step," she said.
Asked what happens when Democrats get to that next step, she said: "We win."
And will she stay in her role if that happens?
"I don’t know," she said. "It depends on what members want. But I thought I’d be long gone by now."
"I thought we’d win the third term in the majority and I would have completed some of the work. I’m not here because I want to have the accoutrement of being leader. I’m here because we have a mission to accomplish for the American people," she said.