Pelosi May Not Be Speaker After All

To get the post again, she'll have to fend off a revolt among House Democrats
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 15, 2018 11:05 AM CST
Updated Nov 15, 2018 1:48 PM CST
Nancy Pelosi Is Fighting for Her Speakership
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Nov. 7, 2018.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(Newser) – Nancy Pelosi hopes to be House speaker again, and the first big step happened on election night when Democrats reclaimed control of the chamber. The second step, however, is no gimme. Pelosi now has to fend off a revolt among Democrats who say it's time the 78-year-old relinquished her leadership post. As things stand now, the numbers stacked up against Pelosi look daunting. Details:

  • The math: Pelosi needs 218 votes to become speaker, and Democrats won 228 House races and lead in five more uncalled races, per the Wall Street Journal. The problem? A dozen Democratic incumbents, 10 incoming freshmen, and four leading still-uncalled races have said they won't support her. If she loses those 26 votes, and all Republicans vote against her, Pelosi would fall short. The vote is Jan. 3.
  • The foes: So far, 17 of those opposed to Pelosi have signed a letter pledging to not support her, and HuffPost has the list. (The first name is Tim Ryan of Ohio, a regular Pelosi critic.) Those behind the letter plan to release it after more pledge their support.

  • Voting 'present': Slate takes note of a potential Pelosi strategy: Get some of her opponents, and even some supportive Republicans, to vote "present" instead of no. That would lower the number of yes votes needed, and she would likely triumph. Some who oppose Pelosi might go along as a compromise, but as the Journal notes, this could result in the perception that Pelosi is a weakened leader.
  • A different woman? One of the pro-Pelosi arguments is that with a record number of women elected to Congress, it's essential that a woman hold a leadership post. That's fine, says the anti-Pelosi camp, which is putting forth names including Cheri Bustos of Illinois, Marcia Fudge of Ohio, and Karen Bass of California, per the Hill. Fudge, for her part, has said she isn't ruling it out.
  • Fighting back: Pelosi is taking the threat seriously, with the Washington Post reporting that she made her case to the pivotal Congressional Black Caucus on Wednesday. Her office also unveiled endorsements from major unions.
  • Newcomers: Pelosi won over one on-the-fence female newcomer, Jennifer Wexton of Virginia, on Wednesday. But others, including Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey, who ran on a pledge to oppose Pelosi, aren't budging. "I think there are some great people that will be coming forward, and I'm excited to see who those people might be," Sherrill said. "They haven't identified themselves yet, but we have such a deep bench of talent in the Democratic Party."
  • The word from Pelosi: "I have overwhelming support in my caucus to be speaker of the House. I happen to think at this point, I’m the best person for that," Pelosi told reporters Thursdsay, per the Washington Post.
(The Republican House leadership, meanwhile, is already decided.)

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