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Nancy Pelosi is the representative both sides love to hate. Republicans hate her so much that she appeared in campaign ads across the country—as the devil who could become Speaker of the House if you didn’t elect your local Republican candidate. And, largely to her efforts, the Democrats flipped the most seats since Watergate and Richard Nixon, in 1974. Acknowledging her lightning-rod status, Pelosi even invited Democrats to run against her leadership, if it would help them get elected.

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That being the case, you’d think that she’d be hoisted up and carried to the Speaker’s chair. But if you thought that, you’d be wrong. There has been a steady drumbeat among liberal (“progressive”) Democrats to replace her. They consider her too old and too moderate for a party that is feeling its oats—at least in that chamber.

Pelosi has at least two viable opponents in her fight for the Chair. A simple majority vote of 218 Representatives is needed to capture the position. Immediately after the election, Steny Hoyer (D-MD) announced that not only did he want the position, but he already had155 members who signed a letter of support, according to The Hill. Hoyer built his support by campaigning across the nation in the November election.

“Steny was out on the trail tirelessly campaigning this cycle, doing the hard work necessary to take back the House. He traveled to districts in every part of the country, campaigning with progressive and moderate Democratic candidates alike. He’s been there for us: traveling for us, raising money for us, and he’s often one of the first people to reach out and offer his support. He has been a mentor to many of us,” the letter says.

Hoyer’s support transcends ideological fractures within the party, gaining the support of progressives and moderates, as well as 32 members of the Congressional Black Caucus, 31 members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and 31 freshman representatives, accounting for the majority of the freshman class.

The representatives note that as whip, Hoyer emphasized giving more junior members further experience, writing, “Half of his Whip team is composed of Members who have served for three terms or less… Steny is an innovative leader with unwavering integrity who empowers Members and gets things done. We believe that under his leadership, we will be well-positioned for further success in 2020.”

Democrats will hold their elections for leadership positions on Nov. 28, when Hoyer is expected to officially be elected majority leader.

Hoyer is 79, so he’s hardly part of a “new generation.” More importantly, well, he’s not a woman. In the “year of the woman,” many Democrats feel that throwing Pelosi out of her position, after being the only female Speaker (2007-2011), and having waited eight long years to retrieve the gavel, would be “bad optics.” Pelosi charged that sexism was involved in her opposition. But she now has a female challenger, too—Marcia Fudge, of Ohio–according to Politico. Fudge is not only a woman but is also African-American.

Former Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Marcia Fudge of Ohio told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that she is considering a bid for the gavel. Fudge, who has signed a letter vowing to oppose Pelosi on the House floor, does not believe the California Democrat can clinch the 218 votes needed to return to her old position. . .

Fudge is among 17 incoming lawmakers and incumbents who have signed onto a yet-to-be-released letter vowing to vote against Pelosi on the floor. It’s a major problem for the Californian’s campaign to recapture the job. The letter does not include signatures from several other incoming freshmen who have said they will not back Pelosi on the floor but are uncomfortable signing at the moment.

The Washington Examiner named the 17 letter signers.

Current members:

1. Tim Ryan, Ohio.
2. Seth Moulton, Mass.
3. Kathleen Rice, N.Y.
4. Ed Perlmutter, Colo.
5. Kurt Schrader, Ore.
6. Filemon Vela, Texas
7. Marcia Fudge, Ohio
8. Linda Sanchez, Calif.
9. Bill Foster, Ill.
10. Brian Higgins, N.Y.
11. Jim Cooper, Tenn.
12. Stephen Lynch, Mass.

Incoming members:

13. Jeff Van Drew, N.J.
14. Joe Cunningham, S.C.
15. Max Rose, N.Y.
16. Anthony Brindisi, N.Y. (race still uncalled)
17. Ben McAdams, Utah (race still uncalled)

The Hill reports that many Democrats, such as Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) think that they need Pelosi “on the mound,” using a baseball metaphor. “In these late innings of the Trump first term, [Pelosi] is the most skillful leader that we have,” Swalwell said on Fox News.

Meanwhile, Fox says the momentum is against Pelosi.

If all those Democrats vote against Pelosi on the floor, Pelosi would not have the votes for speaker. To get the gavel, Pelosi will first need to pick up a majority of the Democratic Caucus in internal leadership elections, then go on to win an absolute majority of the House.

So if Pelosi can’t get 218 Democrats to support her, could she win, anyway? Oddly, yes. If Democrats are split, Republicans could choose the new Speaker, according to the rules of the House. That person would probably be a Democrat, but if the new Speaker has to rely on Republican votes to gain the position, it would seriously erode his or her party standing.

And you know who is pushing for “Nancy” to be speaker? None other than Donald J. Trump, according to Fox.

Trump said in a tweet Pelosi “deserves” to be House speaker, and even offered to help provide the votes.

“In all fairness, Nancy Pelosi deserves to be chosen Speaker of the House by the Democrats,” he wrote. “If they give her a hard time, perhaps we will add some Republican votes. She has earned this great honor!”

Donald and Nancy: They say “politics makes strange bedfellows,” but considering Trump’s history with women, he’d probably prefer a different description. . .

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Filed in: 2018 Midterms Tagged in:
Goethe Behr is a Contributing Editor and Moderator at Election Central. He started out posting during the 2008 election, became more active during 2012, and very active in 2016. He has been a political junkie since the 1950s and enjoys adding a historical perspective.

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