The number of House Democrats opposing Nancy Pelosi’s bid for House speaker is growing.
A total of 17 Democrats have signed a letter signaling their opposition to Pelosi, the intent of which is to demonstrate she doesn’t have the 218 votes to be speaker and encourage another person to challenge her. But when that letter will be released is still an open question.
The names, first obtained by the Huffington Post’s Matt Fuller, include:
- Tim Ryan (D-OH)
- Seth Moulton (D-MA)
- Kathleen Rice (D-NY)
- Ed Perlmutter (D-CO)
- Kurt Schrader (D-OR)
- Filemon Vela Jr. (D-TX)
- Stephen Lynch (D-MA)
- Marcia Fudge (D-OH)
- Bill Foster (D-IL)
- Brian Higgins (D-NY)
- Linda Sanchez (D-CA)
- Jim Cooper (D-TN)
- Rep.-elect Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ)
- Rep.-elect Joe Cunningham (D-SC)
- Rep.-elect Max Rose (D-NY)
- Rep.-elect Anthony Brindisi (D-NY)
Ben McAdams, the Democrat running against Rep. Mia Love (R-UT) in Utah has also signed, but he has not secured a win in his congressional race.
With several congressional districts with outstanding races, Democrats could occupy up to 234 seats, meaning Pelosi could only afford to lose 16 votes during the January 3 speaker’s floor vote. In other words, even though Democrats had a sweeping win, she is still having to count votes — a position Pelosi allies did not think she’d be in coming off such a large 2018 victory.
And there are other committed no’s who aren’t on the letter. Newly elected members Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Jason Crow (D-CO), Haley Stevens (D-MI), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), and Conor Lamb (D-PA) have not yet signed the letter but have publicly committed to vote against Pelosi on the all-important January 3 floor vote.
“I think we need new voices in Congress at all levels, from all the new members who are going to be arriving to the highest levels,” Spanberger told Vox in a recent interview. “I think foundationally, that’s pretty important.”
Crow, an Army veteran who recently flipped a Colorado congressional district blue, also reiterated he’s an unequivocal no to Pelosi.
“Nothing’s changed,” he told Vox. “I know that’s a shock to a lot of people in DC that nothing’s changed. My position is pretty clear on it, I’m going to keep my promise.”
At her weekly press conference on Thursday, Pelosi seemingly dismissed the letter from agitators, throwing a question back to the reporter who asked her about the signatures.
“Have you seen the letter? You haven’t seen it?” Pelosi asked. When asked if she’s still confident she has the 218 votes needed to be speaker, Pelosi answered with one word.
“I intend to win the speakership with Democratic votes,” she added. “I have overwhelming support in my caucus to be speaker of the House.”
A potential Pelosi challenger is emerging
This isn’t the end of Pelosi’s problems. Fudge, a former chair of the powerful Congressional Black Caucus, is reportedly considering her own speaker bid. The Ohio Congress member hasn’t yet made a decision, she told a local paper.
“People are asking me to do it, and I am thinking about it,” Fudge told cCeveland.com’s Sabrina Eaton. “I need to give it some thought and see if I have an interest. I am at the very beginning of this process. It is just in discussion at this point.”
Fudge also said she has been “overwhelmed” from the support from her Democratic colleagues, according to a new interview from the Washington Post’s Robert Costa. Fudge estimated nearly 30 Democrats are prepared to oppose Pelosi.
“Things could change rapidly,” she told Costa.
Rep. Moulton, the Massachusetts representative who has been one of the leaders of the group trying to convince someone to run against Pelosi, tweeted his support for Fudge on Wednesday night.
Pelosi typically has had a challenger during past caucus votes to chose the Democratic leader but has prevailed each time. She has openly welcomed other people to jump in, something she repeated on Thursday.
“Come on in, the water is warm,” Pelosi said.
But with the exception of Fudge, people have been hesitant to step forward.
“The dynamic she has built over her 16 years as leader has made it very difficult for people to feel like they can throw their hat in the ring,” Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY) told reporters. “The reason why it’s going to be tough to run against someone who’s been in power for 16 years is that person’s going to be able to harness all the power at the top and make it difficult for people to step up.”