This doesn’t mean there’s a candidate for Speaker who’s in a position to beat her. It just means there are enough House Democrats willing to vote against Pelosi under any and all circumstances that they can prevent her from getting a majority.
Whether that actually holds long enough for the Democrats to consolidate their support behind someone else is a very open question, but here’s where the #NeverNancy people stand at the moment:
Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) told reporters Tuesday night that he was “100 percent” confident there were enough votes to block Pelosi ― more than 20 ― during a speaker floor vote. He said the anti-Pelosi members planned to release a letter demonstrating to Pelosi that she doesn’t have the votes, at which point they expect other Democrats to step up and run for the speaker position.
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Moulton said the members, led by less than a dozen existing Representatives and some incoming Democrats who have said they won’t support Pelosi, are figuring out when to release the letter ― “we’re going to see what makes the most sense” ― but they plan to do it before the caucus votes for its leaders behind closed doors at the end of November.
To be speaker, a Democrat would have to win that election among just Democrats in November, but he or she would also have to win an election among the full House on Jan. 3. If current projections hold, Democrats look like they’ll have a majority of 233 to 235 members out of 435 total, meaning Pelosi could lose 15 to 17 votes and still be elected speaker.
Let’s break down the mechanics of this a little.
The election of the new Speaker would normally come down to a foregone-conclusion vote between the Democrat leader and the Republican leader, with the leader of whichever party is in the majority winning on a party line vote. So let’s assume Pelosi is the Democrats’ choice and Kevin McCarthy is the Republicans’ choice. In a conventional Speaker election, Pelosi would get all the Democrat votes and McCarthy would get all the Republican votes, and voila, Pelosi is elected Speaker by virtue of having a majority.
But you can’t be elected Speaker with a mere plurality. So if 20 Democrats refuse to support Pelosi as Moulton envisions, neither Pelosi nor McCarthy would be elected Speaker even though Pelosi would still have a bare plurality. What happens then? The House takes another vote. But as long as the #NeverNancy 20 holds firm, Pelosi can never be elected Speaker. The goal, obviously, is to get Pelosi to blink before her opponents blink. If she agrees to step aside, then the Democrat caucus would then have to choose someone else to get behind and presumably elect with a majority.
Could McCarthy be elected Speaker? Theoretically yes, but basically no way. He would need 20 Democrats to cross the aisle and vote for him, and that is not going to happen. It might be an interesting threat for the #NeverNancy Democrats to put forward: Unless Pelosi steps aside, we’ll vote for McCarthy and he’ll be Speaker!
But knowing Pelosi, she’d call their bluff, and actually going through with it would be self-defeating because the whole idea is to elect a Speaker who is more effective in forwarding the Democrats’ objectives.
The real question is: Which side blinks first? Could Moulton really hold this group together through any and all pressure tactics to back down, such that Pelosi really sees the handwriting on the wall and agrees to step aside? If they only have the bare minimum of 20 they need, I doubt it.
Now, if the #NeverNancy group grows to, say, 35 or 40, then Pelosi might realize she has no chance of being elected Speaker and might choose the path of least humiliation and step aside before the vote even happens. If it’s going to be close, though, I think she’ll stand for election as Speaker and make the case that there’s no one else in the Democrat caucus who’s as prepared and experienced as she is to do the job.
A more interesting question is: What outcome should conservatives be rooting for?
Conventional wisdom is that Pelosi as Speaker would be the gift that keeps giving because she is so embarrassingly incoherent, and often slips and tells ugly truths about the Democrats’ real objectives.
Here’s what I think a lot of conservatives miss, though: Whenever Pelosi makes a fool of herself, we all see the video clips on conservative sites like this one, and it sometimes leads us to think Democrats are paying a heavy price in public perception for Pelosi’s nuttiness. What we miss is that most people, who are not political junkies, are not looking at sites like ours. And nothing she says is going to be shown on the nightly news or featured in the daily newspapers or news sites people lightly peruse.
To put it more simply: When Nancy Pelosi speaks and reveals herself to be a complete nut, almost no one knows about it who isn’t already a committed partisan one way or the other. You can put her statements in campaign ads, but those have only so much value in district-by-district races or the presidential race we’re looking at in 2020.
Meanwhile, Pelosi is probably correct when she argues that she is a more capable master of House rules and processes than any of her would-be Democrat rivals.
Yet there clearly are Democrats who want Pelosi ousted. Why do they want that? She is certainly as slavish to left-wing policy priorities as anyone else who could run. The case against her seems to be mostly based on the idea that she’s too out of touch and not very relateable to the younger generation of voters Democrats hope to cement as their base for the coming decades.
Then again, young voters love Bernie, so maybe it’s less a matter of age and more a matter of how you go about trying to appeal. Bernie is nuts, but he seems genuinely passionate about the insane ideas he advocates. Does Nancy Pelosi seem genuine about anything apart from maintaining power and influence for Nancy Pelosi?
Good luck with your choice, Democrats!
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