16 House Democrats vow to oppose Pelosi as next speaker
WASHINGTON — Sixteen dissident Democrats said Monday that they will vote to deny Rep. Nancy Pelosi another stint as House speaker, a show of defiance that puts her opponents on the cusp of forcing a seismic leadership shake-up as their party prepares to take the majority.
Their pledge to oppose Pelosi, D-Calif., both in an internal caucus election Nov. 28 and a Jan. 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. Opponents said Monday that they are convinced that it is time to select a new leader.
“We are thankful to Leader Pelosi for her years of service to our Country and to our Caucus,” they wrote. “However, we also recognize that in this recent election, Democrats ran on and won on a message of change.”
Pelosi has expressed complete confidence that she will retake the speaker’s gavel in January — eight years after she lost it following massive Republican gains in the 2010 midterms and 16 years after she was first elevated to the top Democratic leadership post in the House.
“Come on in, the water’s fine,” she said Friday about a potential leadership challenge.
The signers might not be able to force Pelosi out themselves. The size of the Democratic majority remains in flux, but Democrats have won 232 seats, according to the Associated Press, with four races still undecided.
All those races have Republican incumbents, but the Democratic challenger is ahead in only one. If the current leads hold in the uncalled races, Democrats would have won 233 seats — a 16-seat majority. That means Pelosi could lose as many as 15 Democratic votes when she stands for election as speaker on Jan. 3.
Five other Democrats have made statements saying they would not vote for Pelosi but did not sign the letter, including Rep.-elect Jared Golden of Maine’s 2nd District.
He reiterated that pledge in a news conference last week after defeating Rep. Bruce Poliquin in a ranked-choice count the Republican incumbent is contesting in federal court. Golden spokesman Bobby Reynolds said Monday that “nothing’s changed.”
“What counts is the vote and Jared, he’s not equivocating at all,” he said.
Not signing the letter is Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, who has publicly opposed Pelosi and is mulling a run against her. Fudge said Friday that she would not make a final decision on whether to run until next week at the earliest.
Democratic aides involved in the effort to oust Pelosi but not authorized to comment publicly said they are confident additional lawmakers would oppose Pelosi in a floor vote beyond those who signed the letter.
BDN writer Michael Shepherd contributed to this report.