Democrats have a slim majority in the House of Representatives, and thus far it has been all but assumed that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) would return to her position as House Speaker.
But that might not be as set in stone as many would assume. Ten Democrat congressmen — including incumbents and newly elected members — told Politico they would vote against Pelosi for House Speaker. Eight sitting members or their offices told Politico on Thursday they would vote against Pelosi, while two newly elected members had said the same on Tuesday.
“That’s an issue for Pelosi, who has led the Democratic caucus for 16 years, and significantly narrows her margin for error in her bid to lock down the 218 votes needed to return to the speakership,” Politico reported.
Democrats picked up 31 seats so far in the midterm election, with more yet to be determined. Their majority is just eight seats right now, meaning that’s all the votes Pelosi could lose and still become Speaker with the necessary 218 votes. Democrats believe they’ll end up with another six seats once more races are called, allowing Pelosi to lose the votes of 14 members.
Eight current Democrats are leading the anti-Pelosi effort, and reaching out to new members to try and get them on board, as many have called for “new leadership.”
Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) led the call to organize against Pelosi on Wednesday, which included Reps. Bill Foster (D-IL), Seth Moulton (DMA), Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Kurt Schrader (D-OR), Conor Lamb (D-PA), and Filemon Vela (D-TX). Campaign staff for incoming Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) and Jason Crow (D-CO) have said they won’t vote for Pelosi.
Two Democrats who voted against Pelosi in 2016 may also vote against her again, but wouldn’t respond to a Politico request for comment. If Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) and Ron Kind (D-WI) join the anti-Pelosi wing of the party, that would be 12 votes against her, potentially keeping her from becoming speaker.
As the previous House Speaker, Pelosi oversaw large gains for Democrats in the House in 2008 and a historic loss in 2010, during which Republicans picked up 64 seats while running against President Barack Obama and Pelosi. It’s easy to see why some Democrats may feel Pelosi should no longer be in charge of the party. Still, she is experienced. One former Pelosi critic, Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL), told Politico she believed “you need an experienced person at the top to help get that together, get us organized and start off on the right foot as we get back to work for the American people."
Pelosi’s office waved off the notion that she may not be speaker again and has been working to win over former opponents.
“Leader Pelosi is confident in her support among Members and Members-elect,” spokesman Drew Hammill told Politico. “Democrats don’t let Republicans choose their leaders. The election proved that the GOP attacks on Pelosi simply do not work.”
The attacks certainly didn’t work as well as when Pelosi was actually in charge. There is no doubt that if she is elected Speaker again, Republicans will run against her in 2020.
It is still likely that Pelosi will become Speaker once again. Similar rebellion notions were stoked when former Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) was up for a vote, yet opposition was unable to succeed in replacing him.