- Nancy Pelosi is consolidating support as she mounts her unopposed campaign to be the next speaker of the House.
- Several members of the anti-Pelosi group that were opposing her as party leader have flipped in recent days.
- Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton, one of the members leading the opposition to Pelosi, is reportedly shifting his strategy against the leadership team.
WASHINGTON – Just several days after releasing a letter to state their opposition Nancy Pelosi becoming speaker of hte House and retaining her top spot in the caucus, that group of House Democrats has virtually collapsed.
Despite initially having an uncertain future in the wake of an election brought forth by a surge of outsider, anti-establishment candidates, opposition to the longtime California Democrat has dwindled and some of the hardline anti-Pelosi Democrats have completely flipped their positions.
“The candidates who said that they will vote for new leadership are going to uphold that promise,” Moulton said in an interview with the Boston Globe days after the midterm elections earlier in November. “They’re not going to go along with what the party wants them to do if it’s not the right thing for the district or country.”
And since then, Moulton has expressed confidence the votes are there to sink Pelosi’s unopposed campaign to become speaker of the House when the new Congress takes form in January.
Moulton, alongside 15 other Democrats and incoming freshmen, released a letter detailing their opposition to Pelosi.
More anti-Pelosi Democrats are flipping by the day
In the days that followed, names have started to drop from that list of 16.
Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge, who had been mulling a challenge against Pelosi, removed her name from the letter before it was made public. Fudge then swiftly backed Pelosi just before Thanksgiving in exchange for restoration of a House Administration Subcommittee on Elections, of which Fudge would become its new chairwoman.
The dealmaking did not stop there either. Rep. Brian Higgins removed his name from the letter and flipped his position to back Pelosi after receiving assurances that a couple of his policy priorities would top the list for Democrats in 2019, with him being “the lead person on the Medicare buy-in,” according to an interview with The Buffalo News.
On Monday, Massachusetts Rep. Stephen Lynch bailed on his colleagues who signed the letter opposing Pelosi. In an interview with WCBV-Boston, Lynch said that while he still wants a change in leadership, “If it becomes a choice between a Republican and Nancy Pelosi, I’ll obviously support Nancy Pelosi.”
The number of Democrats opposed to Pelosi has shrunken because of her superior dealmaking ability, but also due to fear of survival if they remain defiant toward such a powerful figure in their party.
With such a massive turnover in the House, there are many new committee spots needed to be filled by Democrats, meaning there are deals to be made and positions some members want to keep for themselves.
Sensing the new mood on Capitol Hill, Moulton changed his tune, according the Washington Post.
Moulton is reportedly shifting his focus away from the fight against Pelosi and instead looking at the rest of the senior members of the leadership team.
But Reps. Steny Hoyer and Jim Clyburn – who are respectively running for Majority Leader and Majority Whip – are mounting their campaigns unopposed. Further, those positions do not require 218 floor votes to secure their positions, making the likelihood of a win that much stronger.
Whether that means Moulton is conceding defeat or looking for an easier challenge is unclear, though he remained adamant he wants a change in the leadership structure that has been in place for more than a decade.
“Leader Pelosi wants to boil this down to a personal argument, but this is so much bigger than her,” Moulton told the Washington Post in a statement. “It’s about the entire, stagnant three-person leadership team and having a serious conversation about promoting leaders who reflect the future of our caucus.”