More a Dozen Democrats on Monday released a letter announcing their opposition to electing Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaker of the House, presenting her a narrow path to reclaiming the speaker’s gavel in the next Congress.
The letter is the first concrete expression of opposition from current Democratic lawmakers and incoming members of Congress since the party won control of the House in the midterm elections.
Nancy Pelosi, who served as the first female speaker of the House from 2007 through 2011, and has been the top Democrat in the lower chamber since 2002 — has been aggressively campaigning for the speakership amid opposition from a small but vocal group of incumbents within her own party who have long advocated for new leadership and several incoming members who won election pledging they would oppose her as speaker.
No challenger to Pelosi has come forward, though, and the letter didn’t say what the group will do if no one emerges. The letter also didn’t say whether a lower-level change in leadership would satisfy the Democrats’ demand.
Sixteen Democrats signed the letter, including 11 current House members and three others who have been declared winners by the Associated Press. Two other letter-signers’ election outcomes haven’t been called by AP. Anthony Brindisi of New York is leading in his race, while Ben McAdams is running behind Republican incumbent Mia Love in Utah, according to AP. Only two of the party members signing the letter are women.
Pelosi didn’t respond directly to the 16 Democrats, though she wrote in a Thanksgiving message to colleagues later Monday, “This is a Thanksgiving of hope. Our Democratic House majority must now honor that spirit of hope by showing that we can govern.”
A senior Democratic aide dismissed the letter and the effort. “If your strategy relies upon Nancy Pelosi giving up, you will lose every single time. Ninety-four percent of the caucus didn’t sign this letter,” the aide said.
Of the sixteen Democrats who signed the letter, four are newly elected. One signee, Ben McAdams, has not yet been elected, but currently leads Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, in his uncalled race.
The letter does not represent the totality of Democratic opposition to Pelosi. Two members who have contemplated running against Pelosi as speaker, Reps. Karen Bass, D-Calif., and Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, did not sign on to the letter. Abigail Spanberger, who vowed to oppose Pelosi in her successful Virginia campaign, said on Friday after leaving a meeting with her that she would not sign the letter but would still vote against her.
“I will not be voting for Leader Pelosi,” Spanberger told reporters then. “It isn’t about her; it’s about wanting new leadership.”
President Donald Trump tweeted over the weekend that Pelosi “deserves” to be speaker, adding that he “can get as many votes as she wants.