How Pelosi battle reflects Democratic frustration over leadership 'bottleneck'

Charlene Craig
November 20, 2018

Their pledge to oppose Pelosi, D-Calif., both in an internal caucus election November 28 and a January 3 floor vote, delivered in a letter sent to Democratic colleagues, comes as Pelosi has marshaled a legion of supporters on and off Capitol Hill to make her case. If fifteen Democrats vote against Pelosi on the floor, she wins the gavel by one vote.

The topic of a challenge to Pelosi is a hot one and came up on Fox News Channel's Outnumbered on Monday, during which segment they noted that Pelosi's supporters include non-politicians like tennis star Martina Navratilova.

It's a smaller amount of signatures than the letter's organizers had indicated. "We are thankful to Leader Pelosi for her years of service to our Country and to our Caucus". The dissidents signing the letter reportedly hoped they'd force Pelosi to withdraw, which would have obviously opened everything up, but she remains defiantly confident.

Rather, they argue that Democrats won the majority "on the backs of candidates who said that they would support new leadership" and that voters want to see change in Washington.

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Released a "Dear Colleague" letter Monday detailing his support for Pelosi, praising her as a dedicated leader and "the epitome of stamina". Republicans kept the Senate but lost the House, which they had controlled since 2010.

With a few races remaining undecided and Democrats on track to pick up 38 or 39 House seats, the 16 letter-signers could complicate the math for Pelosi. "She has probably the most diverse leadership team in the history of any legislative body as far as the Congress is concerned", Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the incoming House Oversight Committee chairman and a CBC member, said on CBS News' "Face the Nation".

He added that intra-caucus elections normally happen this week, but the fact that no speaker has been chosen shows Pelosi does not have the votes needed.

The signature of Rep. Marcia Fudge of OH, who is said to be mulling a challenge to Pelosi, was conspicuously absent.

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"We promised to change the status quo, and we intend to deliver on that promise", the authors wrote, referring to campaign pledges to back new House leaders made by a number of Democratic candidates. "And I think that Nancy has demonstrated that time and time again", Shalala said in an interview alongside four other newly elected House Democratic women on ABC News's "This Week".

Other freshmen who have said they would oppose Pelosi did not sign the letter, and the fight for their allegiance is raging behind the scenes.

Included in that group are two representatives from Massachusetts: Stephen Lynch and Seth Moulton.

But the challenge upset backers of Clyburn, a former Congressional Black Caucus chairman and a revered figure among the caucus's roughly 50 African-Americans - who bristled at the notion that the caucus's top tier could be all-white.

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They were not joined by Representative Marcia Fudge of OH, the only potential Pelosi rival to emerge so far from the party's rank and file.

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