(CN) - Rep. Jerrold Nadler, of New York, on Wednesday won the top Democratic spot on the House Judiciary Committee, the seat held by former Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., for almost a quarter century before he resigned in the wake of sexual harassment allegations.
The House Democratic Caucus voted 118 to 72 in favor of Nadler, a 13-term congressman, who faced a challenge from Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., a 12-term member of Congress from the San Francisco Bay area.
If Democrats win control of the House in next year's midterms, Nadler could assume the committee chairmanship and oversee impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.
Nadler was the senior member of the committee, and he told members he was best prepared to safeguard civil rights and civil liberties from an administration that he says is constantly attacking them. But Lofgren was a compelling alternative to many, mostly due to her experience as an immigration attorney.
Lofgren argued that she was best-suited to be the committee's ranking member because of ongoing controversies surrounding the Trump administration’s immigration policies. She also noted that the Judiciary Committee has never had a female chair or ranking member since its inception in 1813.
In a statement, Nadler said “This is a critical time in our nation’s history, and the work of the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee is more important than ever.
"Our efforts—to hold the Administration and those wishing to turn back history’s long arc towards justice accountable—are central to the defense of progress and democracy," he said. "We must fight to protect the rule of law, strengthen our safety and security from enemies foreign and domestic, shield Americans’ rights and liberties from encroachment, and guarantee that all people, no matter their age, race, gender, religion, ability, finances, nationality, or sexual orientation, are treated fairly and equally.
“My job moving forward—along with every other member of our Committee—is to advance those principles, and I look forward to taking on those challenges together,” Nadler said.