Even Democrats running for Congress in California are refusing to publicly support House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) after Conor Lamb won a special election in Pennsylvania after telling voters that he would not support the San Francisco Democrat.
The San Jose Mercury News surveyed “34 Democrats running for Congress in competitive Republican-held seats in California this year” and “found only two candidates willing to publicly commit to voting for Pelosi if they were elected.”
Pelosi’s team, though, insisted that winning races is the top priority and “the leadership conversation is for later.”
“We are blessed by a healthy roster of candidates in California,” Jorge Aguilar, Pelosi’s spokesman, told the outlet. “Leader Pelosi believes these candidates should focus on their individual races … For now, the message is ‘just win baby!’ and the leadership conversation is for later.”
Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chair Tom Perez recently punted when asked if Pelosi is a “drag” in key tossup districts, and Democrats no longer believe that Pelosi will be a lock to get back her Speakership if Democrats win back the House in November.
The Mercury News pointed out that “one worrying senario for Pelosi would be if Democrats take back the House by just a slim margin.” In such a scenario, Pelosi could win the caucus vote but lose the floor vote for Speaker if there are enough new Democrats who got elected by promising voters they would not support Pelosi.
And as the New York Times noted, plenty of “political insurgents on the left”—and “not just centrist candidates running in red-tinged districts who are reluctant to embrace her”— are distancing themselves from the San Francisco liberal who insisted that President Donald Trump’s tax cuts were nothing but “crumbs.”
Left-wing Democrats in states like Minnesota, Washington, Kansas, and Massachusetts all indicated to the Times on Sunday that they did not want Pelosi to be their leader if they won their respective races in November. One Nebraska Democrat running for Congress told the outlet that the “advice everybody gives” to candidates when they visit D.C. is: “Don’t say you’re for Pelosi.”
Pelosi’s allies believe her fundraising prowess will ensure that she wins back the Speakership if Democrats take back the House. But her detractors have pointed out that Democrats like Lamb who are able to raise millions online without Pelosi’s help will not owe her anything.
Pelosi, though, exuded nothing but confidence last week when reporters grilled her about her future as the party’s leader in Congress.
“I feel pretty confident about my ability to, first and foremost, be a master legislator for the good of the American people. I have proven that,” Pelosi said last week. “I have a strong following in the country, and I don’t think that the Koch brothers should decide who the leader of the Democratic Party is in the House.”