Top House Dem: Time for Pelosi -- and her lieutenants -- to hit the road

While Nancy Pelosi cheered slippery slopes, one of her leadership team declared that the House Minority Leader needs to slide into retirement ASAP. Linda Sanchez, who not only holds the #5 position in the House Democrat caucus but also is a fellow Californian, told the Washington Post and C-SPAN that not only does Pelosi need to resign her leadership positions, but so do Steny Hoyer and James Clyburn, her longtime lieutenants. It’s time to pass the torch to new leadership, Sanchez says.

Want to guess who she has in mind?

“I do think we have this real breadth and depth of talent within our caucus and I do think it’s time to pass a torch to a new generation of leaders and I want to be a part of that transition,” Sanchez said on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” in an interview conducted by reporters with The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. “I want to see that happen. I think we have too many great members here that don’t always get the opportunities that they should. I would like to see that change.”

Pressed to clarify her comments, Sanchez went further and said that House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) and House Assistant Minority Leader James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), who have been part of Pelosi’s leadership team for more than a decade, also should prepare to step down.

“They are all of the same generation and again, their contributions to the Congress and the caucus are substantial. But I think there comes a time when you need to pass that torch. And I think it’s time,” she said.

This may have been prompted by an interview that Pelosi gave the New York Times last week, in which the 77-year-old Democratic leader hinted that she planned to stick around for a while. Without Hillary Clinton in the White House, Pelosi explained, the country needs a woman at the top of the decision-making process:

“One of the reasons I stayed here is because I thought Hillary Clinton would win, we’d have a woman president and so there would be a woman not at a seat at the table, but at the head of the table for the world,” said Ms. Pelosi, the liberal Californian and longtime leader of House Democrats.

“We wanted to have a woman president,” she said in an interview for the New York Times podcast “The New Washington.” “But when we didn’t, then I couldn’t walk away and say, O.K., just let all the men have the seats at the table that are making decisions for our country.”

This makes it sound like Pelosi wants to stick around not just this session but the next session as well. That makes sense, if one believes that Democrats might win back the majority and hand Pelosi the Speaker’s gavel again. Unfortunately, as Sanchez hints, one big obstacle to that is Nancy Pelosi and her full-on progressive push. That has a lot more to do with the lack of a Democratic majority and control of the White House than gender does.

Sanchez’ argument accounts for the “women in power” complaint, though …  by putting Sanchez in charge. If that’s what she has in mind, why didn’t Sanchez run for the spot in November? Tim Ryan challenged Pelosi instead, but Sanchez certainly could have done so. Instead, she took a job in Pelosi’s leadership team. Now it appears that Sanchez wants Pelosi to just hand her the leadership job after putting her shoeprint on Pelosi’s back. That’s an interesting strategy. Probably not an effective strategy, but certainly an interesting choice.