Pelosi faces Ohio challenger for minority leader post
WASHINGTON — House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi is facing a challenge from a frustrated younger member in her caucus as the party faces another two years in the minority.
Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan said Thursday that he will challenge the California lawmaker, who has led the Ryan Pelosi party since 2002 and was the first female speaker from 2007-11, in leadership elections later this month.
Democrats have been reeling since last week when the party won fewer seats than she had predicted and lost the presidency.
“What we are doing right now is not working,” Ryan, 43, said in a letter to colleagues.
Ryan is from a Rust Belt state that President Barack Obama won in 2008 and 2012, but that Presidentelect Donald Trump won easily this year. Along with younger members in the caucus, Democrats from several Midwestern states have expressed concern that the party has become too focused on the two coasts and forgotten the working-class voters in the middle. Pelosi is from San Francisco.
Pelosi is still the favorite to win another term as leader. She said in announcing her candidacy Wednesday that she has the backing of two-thirds of the caucus, though Ryan questioned that number.
The election is Nov. 30. It had been scheduled for Thursday but was post- poned until after Thanksgiving.
Pelosi, 76, is a survivor who enjoys enormous respect and goodwill among most Democrats, even as many of her closest allies have left Congress. She has managed to maintain unity within the diverse flock of House Democrats and is an unparalleled fundraiser for them, collecting more than $100 million in the past cycle alone.
Ryan’s bid marks the second time Pelosi has faced a challenge after a dismal Democratic performance in an election. She easily beat back North Carolina Rep. Heath Shuler 150-43 after the party lost the majority in 2010.
Meanwhile, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine said Thursday that he will seek re-election in 2018, but he is ruling out a presidential bid in 2020.
The former Democratic vice presidential nominee said his place is in the Senate and his decision not to run in 2020 is final.