Democrats voted “overwhelmingly” to nominate Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for Speaker of the House, clearing away any suspicion that an “insurgency” among Democrats might derail the ancient California Democratic representative’s plans to return to the helm of her party.
The Hill reports that Pelosi — unsurprisingly — secured the nomination from party leaders Wednesday afternoon in a caucus meeting in the House Visitors Center. She ran an uncontested race but took a victory lap anyway.
The vote wasn’t without controversy, however. In a nod to the group of 20-or-so members of Congress who openly objected to Pelosi’s appointment in a letter last week, the caucus deciding the nomination took a paper ballot vote rather than a voice vote.
Typically “voice votes” for leadership positions are expected to yield a unanimous result, but this year, members were asked to circle “yes” or “no” beside Pelosi’s name, indicating whether they approved of the nomination, ostensibly sparing Pelosi the embarrassment of a non-unanimous vote.
Nine members of the caucus are reported to have voted “no,” and in a deal struck with Pelosi earlier this week, several have agreed to abstain from the final floor vote on Pelosi’s nomination, which will take place in January, rather than express their opposition outright.
“Pelosi has released some members to vote no in caucus and then vote present on the House floor,” one lawmaker told the Hill ahead of the vote.
Although it seemed at first as if Pelosi might have to fight to regain the gavel, fending off challenges from both moderate Democrats (to the right of Pelosi) and progressives to her left, Pelosi adeptly navigated a series of threats, first neutralizing a would-be opponent, then striking deals with vocal detractors.
The only possible challenge to Pelosi’s leadership came from Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH), who was quickly revealed to have signed a letter of support for a man convicted of domestic abuse in 2011 — a man who is now the prime suspect in the death of the woman he was eventually convicted of abusing. Pelosi offered Fudge the opportunity to lead a House Committee on voting rights if she pledged not to publicly challenge the presumptive speaker.
Other Pelosi opponents were frozen out. Rep. Seth Moulton, who just Tuesday said he’d be prepared to strike a deal with the presumptive Speaker in return for dropping his opposition to her nomination, was not asked to the bargaining table. He and the open letter’s other signatories weren’t contacted for negotiations.
There was at least one man who was moved by Pelosi’s re-election, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who officially nominated Pelosi (alongside Rep. John Lewis of Georgia), weeping as he made his declaration.
Adam Schiff wept as he helped nominate Pelosi for speaker, per sources
— John Bresnahan (@BresPolitico) November 28, 2018