Eventually, most revolutions eat their own — and Nancy Pelosi might be next. After finally leading her party back to a House majority by embracing La Résistance to Donald Trump, Pelosi expects to return to her former role as House Speaker. The revolutionaries have something else in mind, Politico reports:
Ten Democratic incumbents or members-elect told POLITICO that they will vote against Nancy Pelosi for speaker on the House floor, exposing a serious problem for the California Democrat in her bid to reclaim the gavel.
Eight sitting lawmakers or their offices said on Thursday that they will oppose Pelosi on the floor. Two candidates who won on Tuesday previously said the same. …
It’s going to be close at the very least: Without every race decided, Democrats have picked up 31 seats in the midterm elections for a total of 226, meaning Pelosi can lose eight votes on the House floor. However, Democratic leaders believe they’ll net another half-dozen seats that have yet to be formally called, meaning Pelosi could lose up to 14 members.
Meanwhile, the anti-Pelosi faction — whom some have dubbed the “revolutionaries” or the “rebels” — are working to grow their numbers. Eight of them joined an hour-long conference call Wednesday night to discuss strategy and messaging. They’ve divvied up the names of just-elected candidates who have called for “new leadership” and are reaching out to encourage them to vote against Pelosi on the floor.
The most recent count has 32 seats flipped, which would give Pelosi a ten-seat majority, but there will be a few more at least coming her way. If the revolt is limited to just these ten members, Pelosi should have no worries.
On the other hand, CNN’s Manu Raju puts the number at 22. And growing:
There are 10 incoming freshman and 12 incumbents who have said they would not support Pelosi, per CNN tally. The question is how many would actually vote for another candidate on the floor when Pelosi is the Democratic Caucus’ candidate https://t.co/hQ6n9vqIFz
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) November 9, 2018
Rep. Filemon Vela, a Texas Democrat, told CNN there are at least 12 rock-solid no votes for Pelosi on the House floor. According to a CNN count, 10 additional incoming freshmen have said they would not support Pelosi for speaker, a number that could threaten her chances of getting 218 votes on the floor.
“There’s no question in my mind: If we get 229 (seats), she will never get 218” votes to become speaker, Vela said.
So far CNN projects Democrats have a 225-seat majority, with 10 races still undecided.
There’s no small amount of irony in this palace revolt. Pelosi lost the majority in 2010, don’t forget, in large part because of overreach by her and Barack Obama. Democrats lost three straight House elections after that under her leadership, and yet never made a serious bid to unseat her. Now that she’s finally won an election, the backbench wants to give her the heave-ho?
Pelosi’s not going anywhere, though. For one thing, she controls the donor money in the House caucus, which is how she hung on through four successive failures. Anyone who wants to run again in 2020 will need Pelosi’s help to do so, especially the most vulnerable first-termers. They can’t afford to have Pelosi take her ball and go home.
The big unanswered question is just how far the revolutionaries plan to take this. They might have enough votes to deny her a win in a final floor vote, but Pelosi will overwhelmingly win the initial caucus vote. Do the revolutionaries plan to vote for Kevin McCarthy for speaker instead? Or will they just go through a series of meaningless floor votes supporting another Democrat from their own group until finally capitulating?
Pelosi’s not going to surrender on this vote; if she was inclined to do that, she would have quit after 2010. She’s been eating revolutionaries since 2011, and she has a lot more practice and experience at this game. Best of luck, dissenters.