Pelosi won’t say if she wants to stay in charge. But will House Democrats let her?

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Democrats are not on the same page on the sensitive topic.

“I support Pelosi,” said Representative Henry Kueller, a conservative Texas Democrat who owes her help to help Pelosi win his primary. “I will support him for any position.”
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“I think if we win the House, she’ll be worth it — it’s as simple as that,” said Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, a Texas Democrat.

But what if they lose the majority?


“The dynamics vary,” Gonzalez said. “I think it changes the game.”

Other Democrats say it is time for new leadership, whatever happens in November.

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“It’s time for the generational diversity of our leadership ranks—regardless of the outcome of the election,” said Rep. Dean Phillips, a Minnesota Democrat who voted Pelosi for speaker, “one of the most extraordinary speakers in history.” ”

“It doesn’t change my view that it is time for a new generation,” Phillips said, noting that there is a broader view within the caucus.

Personally, the appraisal tends to be blunt.

“He has to go,” said a senior Democrat. “There’s no way she can stay,” added another longtime House Democrat. “He doesn’t have the votes,” said another veteran Democrat, pointing to some vulnerable frontline Democrats who have vowed not to vote for him.

Indeed, it is all running against the deep tension in his party, both House Democrats and overall, that they are overdue for a major change in their leadership. Yet two of Pelosi’s representatives, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Most Whip Jim Clyburn, who, like Speaker, north of 80, have surprised colleagues by privately indicating that they would be able to succeed him after his departure. may be interested.

Not everyone is with that idea.

“I’ve certainly thought for a long time that it is time for new leadership,” said Representative Mickey Sherrill, Democrat of New Jersey’s swing district, who did not vote for Pelosi in the speaker’s election last year. “She’s done an incredible job, but we really need to develop new leaders. When you have the top three people in our caucus in your 80s. … a new generation needs to come in and start leading . And that’s something I think the Democratic Party shouldn’t be afraid of.”

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has been a critic of Pelosi in the past but has since worked on a more collegial relationship and voted to elect her as speaker, said she should be in the leadership after midterm. It is also expected to see change – but that stopped the speaker from calling for him to retire.

“I think the desire for change will be widespread, potentially within the party, if we are in the minority. But I think the desire exists,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “We’ve seen and heard that desire in the last two words that Democrats were the majority, so it’s really just a question of, if people don’t want that, but how many?”

Representative Andy Kim, a vulnerable Democrat from New Jersey, said if Pelosi were to try to stay on as leader, he believes it would go against the commitment he made in 2018, even if it was set in stone. has not been written.

Asked about the possibility of Pelosi staying, Kim said: “I thought we had an agreement in terms of leadership and tenure.” “I have a sense of where I think it needs to go: We stick to what we agreed upon earlier.”

Many Democrats believe Pelosi’s departure is almost certain and that she hasn’t completely shut the door because she doesn’t want to look like a lame-duck as she travels across the country trying to save a staggering amount of money. can be collected. Thin majority. Furthermore, after a productive legislative session – which saw enactment on key issues on climate change, infrastructure and gun violence legislation – as well as a high-profile visit to Taiwan amid tensions with China, many considered his final move. Let’s look at this as a cornerstone on her historic first woman to top the House as Speaker.

“I feel very comfortable about what I’m proposing,” Pelosi said in 2018 after reaching an agreement with Democratic dissidents to limit his term as speaker to four more years. “And I feel very responsible for doing that, whether it’s close or not.”

The term limits for the top three Democratic leaders were never adopted.

House Democratic Caucus Chair Representative Hakeem Jeffries speaks to reporters in Washington, DC in June 2021.

behind the scenes jockeying

New York Representative Hakeem Jeffries, long viewed as Pelosi’s most likely successor, has kept a busy schedule in recent weeks in person, over the phone and on Zoom calls, and will make another visit later this week. Traditional Democratic Party Steak Fry fundraiser at the invitation of Endangered Representative Cindy Xane as a special guest in Iowa. California Representative Adam Schiff, a close associate of Pelosi, is also traveling the country and fundraising on behalf of the allies as he explores a leadership run and is meeting with members about it.

But Hoyer, who has been waiting for Pelosi for decades, has hinted privately to aides that he would run for the top office if Pelosi bowed, according to several Democratic sources.

Hoyer would not confirm or deny those conversations.

“I don’t think we’re ruling out anything,” Hoyer said. “We are focused on winning the election.”

It has long been seen within the caucus that Hoyer would step down when Pelosi did. And many younger members expressed confusion that the 83-year-old liberal longtime leader would try to stand in the way of generational change in leadership, especially if it pitted him against Jeffries, who is African-American and 30 years his junior. Huh.

Clyburn has privately expressed waves of interest in making history as the first black speaker — despite telling CNN late last year that was not in his plans — but an emeritus compared to Hoyer’s standing. -Shelly is seen as more inclined to take leadership roles in the way of Jeffries. Presumably, that question will first be resolved internally within the large and powerful Congressional Black Caucus.

“I haven’t made a decision,” Clyburn told CNN this week.

Pelosi has stuck to her well-known bullishness about the prospects of the Democrats and her understanding of them. At a press conference on Wednesday, he looked at the gathered reporters and said, “Even though there are some of you who downplay my political instincts and the rest, I got us here twice with a majority. And I don’t intend to.” giving.”

When asked whether she would answer a question on whether she wants another term as speaker, she refused to consider it.

“No. I said earlier that we were going to win. And that’s really the point,” she said. “Are we speaking a different language? First we win, then we decide.”

A source close to Pelosi believes the speaker has yet to decide what she might do if Democrats take control of the House.

Speaker spokesman Drew Hamill offered a stock answer when asked about speculation about his future: “The speaker is not on shift. He is on a mission.”

Yet he may have to conquer some dissidents in order to continue his mission.

Michigan Representative Alyssa Slotkin, a weak Democrat who has in the past criticized the House’s leadership and not endorsed Pelosi for speaker, said she would like to see a change in the leadership of her caucus after November.

“I’ve always felt that we need new leadership,” Slotkin said. “I also understand that not leaders – no leader I’ve ever worked with – say they’re leaving long before they actually leave because you lose all your power.”

Ultimately, though, many Democrats say this is Pelosi’s call.

“Should the Democrats retain control of the House in the 118th Congress, I’m going to be with Nancy Pelosi for as long as she wants to be here,” Georgia Democrat Representative Hank Johnson said. “I think that when she leaves, she should be given the opportunity to resign with dignity. In my opinion, it will be her decision.”

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