Nancy Pelosi is the odds-on favorite of becoming the once-and-future Speaker of the House now that Democrats have won control of the lower chamber, but a group of progressives in her party are not going to make ascension easy for her. This week, a band of House Democrats are signing their name to an official letter opposing her bid for the gavel in the hopes that they can successfully rally enough of their colleagues together to prevent Pelosi from getting the 218 votes she needs.
“This is a simple letter saying we want new leadership, which is what a vast majority of Democrats and the American people want,” said Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA).
“It’s time for a change,” agreed Rep. Filemon Vela of Texas. “It’s time for new blood.”
Some sources peg the number of Democrats opposing Pelosi to be as high as twenty, though only 14 are definitely confirmed to be in the left-wing resistance. If all of them stick together, it would make it very difficult for the House Minority Leader to succeed in her ambitions of becoming the most powerful Capitol Hill politician in the country.
One thing working against the rebellious Democrats? They don’t have anyone lined up to take her place, should she fail to get the required support. In comments to reporters, Moulton insisted that this was all according to plan.
“There’s a very practical political reason why no one has come out,” he said. “They don’t want to alienate Pelosi supporters. So it only makes sense from a political perspective that a new candidate steps up after it’s clear that she doesn’t have the votes.”
One name that has surfaced among the anti-Pelosi faction is New York Rep. Hakeen Jeffries. In an interview with CNN, however, Jeffries said he wasn’t interested in going up against the powers-that-be.
“Never count out Nancy Pelosi,” he warned. “Nobody within the Capitol dome is a better vote counter than the once and future speaker of the United States House of Representatives.”
There are ways in which Pelosi might be able to win her prized top spot in Congress without completely alienating – or wooing – her freshman Democrat opponents. In one scenario, her detractors could simply vote “present” in the House roll call, thus lowering the number of total votes Pelosi would need to grab the gavel. In another, Pelosi’s enemies might vote against her in a closed-door, Democrats-only session and then give her the nod when the vote comes up on the open floor.
Either way, while it would be shocking to see the young Dems actually pull off this coup, it’s an early indication that all is not well in the House of the Donkey. Resistance to Trump seems to be this party’s defining, and perhaps only, cohesive glue. We’ll see if that’s enough.