Less than two weeks after Democrats stood united at the polls, chasms are emerging among House Democrats at the thought of having Nancy Pelosi become House speaker in January when Democrats take control of the chamber in the new Congress.
A group of 16 Democrats has now publicly said that its members will oppose Pelosi’s bid to reprise her role as speaker, which she last held in 2010. Whether in the minority or majority, Pelosi has been the leader of the House Democrats for 16 years.
“We promised to change the status quo and we intend to deliver on that promise,” the group of Democratic dissenters wrote, according to the Washington Examiner. “Therefore, we are committed to voting for new leadership in both our Caucus meeting and on the House floor.”
The letter praised Pelosi for her part in achieving some of the party’s “most important legislative achievements.”
But “the time has come for new leadership,” the letter stated.
“Democrats ran and won on a message of change,” the letter said.
The letter was signed by Reps. Tim Ryan of Ohio, Seth Moulton and Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts, Kathleen Rice, and Brian Higgins of New York, Ed Perlmutter of Colorado, Kurt Schrader of Oregon, Filemon Vela of Texas, Linda Sanchez of California, Bill Foster of Illinois and Jim Cooper of Tennessee.
Several congressmen-elect also signed the letter, including Max Rose and Anthony Brindisi of New York, Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, Joe Cunningham of South Carolina and Ben McAdams of Utah.
Rep. Brenda Fudge of Ohio, who has been mulling a leadership challenge to Pelosi, signed an early version of the letter, but her name did not appear on the final version that was released Monday.
In the mechanics of choosing a speaker, the winner is the candidate who gets a majority of the overall members of the House, which means that the speaker needs 218 votes to get elected. Because Democrats hold 233 seats, Pelosi could fail in her election if enough Democrats oppose her that she cannot hit that mark, Politico reported.
Politico said at least three other Democrats oppose Pelosi: Reps. Conor Lamb of Pennsylvania, Abigail Spanberger of Virginia and Jason Crow of Colorado.
“I’ve been very clear about my position and that remains the same,” Spanberger said, according to CNN. “I will be voting, but I will not be voting for her.”
Rice, who signed the letter, said that even if Pelosi wins the majority of votes in the Democratic caucus, she will not have enough to win once the contest goes to the floor.
“The fact of the matter is she might get the overwhelming votes of the caucus votes but there are enough votes to stop her from becoming speaker and that’s really all that matters,” Rice said. “And she knows that.”
Pelosi last week said she encourages anyone who thinks they can beat her to try.
“I’ll say it to everybody: ‘Come on in, the water’s warm,'” she said Thursday, according to CNBC.
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