- A small group of Democrats are circulating a letter to oppose Nancy Pelosi’s campaign to be the next speaker of the House when the new Congress forms in January.
- Pelosi has remained confident in public, telling reporters she has enough votes to be elected speaker.
- Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge, who is opposed to Pelosi, is considering a bid for the speaker’s gavel.
WASHINGTON – Nancy Pelosi’s unopposed bid to serve as the next speaker of the House might not be totally assured after all, despite the longtime Democratic leader reiterating her confidence she will win back the coveted gavel.
A small but powerful contingent of Democratic members – partnering with a sizable chunk of incoming freshmen who unseated Republican incumbents – could upend the process by remaining opposed to Pelosi becoming speaker of the House.
The group, which contains longtime anti-Pelosi members like Rep. Seth Moulton, is circulating a letter opposing Pelosi. A handful of current members and incoming freshmen who pledged not to support Pelosi comprise the letter, which currently has 17 signatures, according a Democratic source. But the group is looking to beef up the list of signatures to at least 20.
The group’s main problem is that they still do not have anyone willing to actually challenge Pelosi. While Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge is mulling a run at speaker, no one has officially jumped in, leaving Pelosi unopposed.
Fudge acknowledged on Wednesday that her colleagues have encouraged her to run, but discussions are still ongoing.
“We’re not going to allow the Republicans to have a speaker, so certainly there will be someone that will step up,” she said. “And those discussions are going on now.”
Fudge, who is one of the members who signed the letter opposing Pelosi, described her frustrations with Pelosi and the current leadership in a HuffPost interview.
“I don’t have a pitch because, at this point, I’ve not decided I’m going to run,” she said. “But I would say this: My concern about the caucus is the same concern I have about the country. Just as there is this undertone of racism in the country, there’s also that in our caucus.”
Fudge added that Pelosi is an elitist “to some degree,” which is why she is so often the target of Republicans – and until 2018 this had served the GOP well in the elections over the past eight years.
“If we’re going to give her credit for the wins, why is she not responsible for all the losses?” Fudge said.
Pelosi was defiant in addressing the movement to challenge her
A defiant Pelosi addressed the difficult path forward during a press conference on Thursday, telling reporters that she would handily win the speaker’s gavel if the vote were held immediately, despite the math saying otherwise.
“I have overwhelming support in my caucus to be speaker of the House,” Pelosi said. “And, certainly, we have many, many people in our caucus who could serve in this capacity. I happen to think at this point, I am the best person for that.”
About rumors she could potentially rely upon Republicans to vote “present” instead of against, Pelosi laughed off the prospect and said she intends to “win the speakership with Democratic votes.”
She also welcomed a challenge from Fudge or anyone else who thinks they are up to the task, saying, “Come on in. The water’s warm.”
And Pelosi has more to contend with than just the individuals who signed the letter. There is a fair amount of frustration from members who are not from the coastal states, which are primarily represented throughout the leadership team.
“I think it’s critical that we send a message to Democrats all over this country that we’re not leaving behind any group, any region, that rural America can be represented in our leadership,” Illinois Rep. Cheri Bustos told INSIDER.
“I think the leadership team matters,” Bustos added. “I know the focus is everybody gets asked about the speaker’s race, but the leadership team matters in all sorts of ways. And one of those is geographic diversity.”