Pelosi se­cure de­spite search for suc­ces­sor

Some in rank and file look to new gen­er­a­tion

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY SETH MCLAUGHLIN

House Mi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi has weath­ered yet an­other round of calls for her ouster, but fel­low House Democrats are be­gin­ning to look be­yond her ten­ure and cast about for a list of suc­ces­sors.

While her two top lieu­tenants — Reps. Steny H. Hoyer, 78, and James E. Cly­burn, 76 — have been wait­ing in the wings for a decade, some rank-and-file Democrats are eye­ing a new gen­er­a­tion of lead­ers to suc­ceed Mrs. Pelosi, 77.

For now, Democrats say, that tim­ing is en­tirely up to Mrs. Pelosi.

“I am not a big fan of ma­t­ri­cide,” said Rep. Raul M. Gri­jalva of Ari­zona, cochair­man of the Con­gres­sional Pro­gres­sive Cau­cus. “I don’t be­lieve we should be eat­ing our own right now. Some peo­ple want to char­ac­ter­ize Nancy as a mill­stone around the neck of the party and why we lost those elec­tions. I don’t think that is ac­cu­rate.”

Dis­si­dent voices rose last week af­ter Democrats lost their fourth at­tempt this year to grab a Repub­li­can-held House seat in a spe­cial elec­tion.

Democrats had hoped anti-Trump sen­ti­ment and a mas­sive in­fu­sion of lib­eral donors’ cash would win them one or two of the seats, al­beit all in Repub­li­can-lean­ing dis­tricts. But they failed in all four, and Repub­li­can Party strate­gists said Mrs. Pelosi was a drag on the Demo­cratic can­di­dates.

Mrs. Pelosi, who has helmed the House Democrats since the end of 2002, de­liv­ered a fierce de­fense of her ten­ure last week, say­ing her leg­isla­tive mas­tery and her spec­tac­u­lar fundrais­ing make her “worth the trou­ble.”

“I think one of the stan­dards that makes her highly ap­pre­ci­ated in the Demo­cratic cau­cus and across the coun­try is how much she has done for oth­ers,” said Rep. Ger­ald E. Con­nolly of Vir­ginia.

“There are some crit­ics around here who re­ally haven’t done much at all for any­body else. For that rea­son, I would say a cer­tain re­spect has to be shown for her com­mit­ment, which has been tire­less,” he said.

“At some point, ob­vi­ously, Democrats are go­ing to have to talk about the next gen­er­a­tion of lead­ers, and we can have that con­ver­sa­tion, but I don’t think we have it in the con­text of ‘Off with her head be­cause we lost a spe­cial elec­tion in Ge­or­gia,’” Mr. Con­nolly said.

What­ever anti-Pelosi fer­vor there was dis­si­pated when it be­came clear that no one else was ready to take over.

In be­hind-the-scenes con­ver­sa­tions, Democrats sug­gest that House Demo­cratic Cau­cus Chair­man Joseph Crow­ley of New York, Vice Chairwoman Linda T. Sanchez of Cal­i­for­nia or Ha­keem S. Jef­fries of New York, a co-chair­man of the Demo­cratic Pol­icy and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mit­tee, could be in line for the job.

Oth­ers laughed at that list and said the party would be bet­ter off turn­ing to a more sea­soned hand such as Rep. Eli­jah E. Cum­mings of Mary­land.

Still oth­ers said the party needs a pro­gres­sive cham­pion such as Rep. Keith El­li­son of Min­nesota, who serves as vice chair­man of the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee, or a fire­brand like Rep. Cedric L. Rich­mond of Louisiana, chair­man of the Con­gres­sional Black Cau­cus.

But those law­mak­ers have sig­naled that they will re­main loyal to Mrs. Pelosi, and Mr. Rich­mond said this week that the black cau­cus has her back.

“I think she has strong sup­port within the CBC,” said Mr. Rich­mond, ar­gu­ing that most Democrats are fo­cused on stop­ping the health care bill that Repub­li­cans are try­ing to usher through Congress. “But it would be great to see the first African-Amer­i­can leader.”

Reps. Seth Moul­ton of Mas­sachusetts and Kath­leen M. Rice of New York have been among the most vo­cal sup­port­ers of a lead­er­ship change, but both have said they are not in­ter­ested in run­ning.

Mr. Moul­ton said this week that he be­lieves law­mak­ers have a big­ger ap­petite for change now than last year, when Mrs. Pelosi thwarted a chal­lenge from Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio — re­tain­ing her post on a 134-63 vote.

Mr. Ryan has re­newed his calls for a lead­er­ship re­think but said he is not in­ter­ested in run­ning against Mrs. Pelosi again.

“It is a con­tin­u­ing con­ver­sa­tion, and what my­self and Kath­leen Rice and a few oth­ers have done is to pro­vide a fo­rum to have this dis­cus­sion — a dis­cus­sion that a lot of mem­bers want to have,” Mr. Moul­ton, Mas­sachusetts Demo­crat, told The Wash­ing­ton Times.

“We have been ap­proached by — I would say a sur­prised num­ber of mem­bers of the cau­cus — in the past week say­ing we need to talk, we need to fig­ure this out, be­cause what we are do­ing clearly isn’t work­ing,” he said.

Asked to name a pos­si­ble suc­ces­sor to Mrs. Pelosi, Mr. Moul­ton smiled and walked away.

Mean­while, Repub­li­cans from Pres­i­dent Trump on down are giddy over the prospect of Mrs. Pelosi stick­ing around. They said they plan to make her cen­tral to their mes­sag­ing in the midterm elec­tions, just as they did in spe­cial elec­tion races.

Corry Bliss, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Con­gres­sional Lead­er­ship Fund, a su­per PAC aligned with House Repub­li­can lead­ers that spent $7 mil­lion in Ge­or­gia, said this week that his group will fol­low the same game plan for midterm elec­tions next year.

“Dur­ing the 2018 cy­cle, CLF will spend mil­lions of dol­lars high­light­ing Nancy Pelosi’s toxic agenda and re­mind­ing vot­ers across the coun­try that Demo­cratic can­di­dates are noth­ing more than rub­ber stamps for her out-of-touch, lib­eral poli­cies,” Mr. Bliss said in a memo.


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