Rep. Nancy Pelosi hopes to again hold the speaker’s gavel in the U.S. House of Representatives after Democrats took control of the lower chamber of Congress in Tuesday’s midterm elections. But the 78-year-old Californian must first convince Democratic newcomers that she is up for the job.
At least three incoming Democratic representatives have said they would vote against Pelosi, and at least eight others have said they oppose her without going as far promising a no vote, according to Roll Call. As many as 30 other incoming Democratic representatives said they were undecided.
Democrat Abigail Spanberger, who unseated Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va., declared she would “under no circumstances” vote for Pelosi, expressing a desire for a new generation of leaders to move the party forward. Critics have also called Pelosi out of touch with the working-class voters the party needs to recruit to try to retake the White House in 2020.
Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, ran against Pelosi for minority leader two years ago and received about one-third of the Democratic vote. But Ryan said he has no plans to challenge Pelosi this time around, and another potential challenger has yet to emerge.
As she works to convince her colleagues, Pelosi can point to her previous four years as speaker, including her role in passing Obamacare, as well as her fundraising prowess and recent sparring with President Donald Trump.
She expressed confidence Wednesday that she can continue to move Democrats forward.
“I think I’m the best person to go forward to unify to negotiate,” Pelosi said.
She received an endorsement from at least one unlikely source: Trump.
“I think she deserves it. She’s been fighting long for it,” the president said at a post-election news conference at the White House, insisting he really meant it and he’d look for common ground with Democrats. “Nancy Pelosi and I can work together and get a lot of things done, along with [Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.] and everybody else that we have to work with. I think we’ll get a lot done.”
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who is currently the second-ranking Republican in the House, is favored to become minority leader with the departure of outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Ohio. McCarthy faces at least one challenger, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, one of the founders of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. —Anne K. Walters