What a coincidence — so are Republicans! And that’s the point, of course. In order to win back control of the House, Democrats have to compete in swing seats where Nancy Pelosi’s brand of progressivism amounts to ballot-box poison. By Politico’s count, at least 20 Democrats running for House seats this fall are taking a page from the GOP by pledging to oust Pelosi as caucus leader and deny her a path to a return as House Speaker:
A trend that started in earnest with Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pa.), who won a special election deep in Trump country, has spread rapidly to encompass a growing cadre of candidates — many in must-win districts for Democrats — that threatens Pelosi’s nearly sixteen-year grip on the party’s leadership.
If Democrats win the House by a narrow margin, the 78-year-old leader could lose only a handful of lawmakers’ support and still secure the 218 votes needed to clinch the speakership in a floor vote.
In that scenario, Pelosi would face a freshman class with a significant bloc of Democrats who are on record promising to oppose her or calling for new leadership. Of the more than a dozen Democratic candidates who have survived their primaries and rejected Pelosi, most are in districts that top the list of targeted 2018 seats.
Whether those statements translate into “no” votes against Pelosi — when she’ll have enormous sway over new lawmakers’ committee assignments and other perks, and a presumably fierce whip effort on her behalf — is impossible to know.
Oh, it’s possible, all right. Previous classes of House Democrats pledged to bring new leadership to their party after losses in the last four straight election cycles. Pelosi’s still standing, as is her entire Ancient Order of Democratic Leadership. Pelosi doles out the dough, and even after four straight losses, her grip on power seems as secure as ever. At the moment, there isn’t even anyone attempting to break out of her shadow despite her terrible track record in elections, especially after the 2012 election which House Democrats should have won.
These pledges to unseat Pelosi cannot be taken seriously. If she wins a majority in November, Pelosi will argue that she quarterbacked it and she deserves the top spot in the House as a result. Democrats aren’t going to let a few freshmen tell them who gets to be caucus leaders. The only way to get rid of Pelosi is to keep having Democrats lose until they recognize that she and her fossilized progressive team are the problem.
Just the fact that these new Democrats feel the need not just to keep quiet about Pelosi but to actively attack her leadership in places outside of the deep-blue political bubble should be a wake-up call to her caucus. Instead, we can keep expecting them to hit the snooze button, at least through this midterm election. If Democrats blow this one, though, perhaps they’ll finally wake up — and toss out Steny Hoyer and James Clyburn along with Pelosi.