DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said Sunday that House Democrats have the fundraising, the issues and the political atmosphere on their side to win back the majority in November.
These factors, and an activated party base that’s helped Democrats win in special elections across the country this year are the “small droplets of water” that create a wave, Pelosi said headlining a county Democratic Party banquet in Des Moines.
“This is not going to be big margins,” she said. “It is going to be small margins in many places.”
Democrats need to pick up 23 seats to flip the majority. A stream of Republican House retirements, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, and the GOP-passed tax cut’s shaky popularity, underscored by President Trump’s low approval, are fueling increased Democratic hopes of retaking the House for the first time since 2010.
Democrats increasingly see the potential change coming from districts where Trump narrowly won in 2016, such as Iowa’s 1st and 3rd Districts and the Omaha area’s 2nd District in Nebraska.
“Here in the heartland a new generation of Democrats is rising up,” she said.
The cheers Pelosi received in Des Moines belie the Republican effort to paint her as the singular face of opposition, which Pelosi attributes to her effectiveness.
In an Associated Press interview, Pelosi, who has been painted as the boogeyman by Republican strategists seeking to hold the House majority in November, has raised millions on her own this year in pursuit of a return to the majority. And she points to what she describes as effective legislative leadership during eight years in the minority.
“I take it as I’m effective,” she said after headlining a fundraising dinner for Polk County Democrats. “I also happen to be, apart from anyone who’s running for president or been the presidential nominee, the biggest fundraiser in the country. So they want to diminish that.”
Pelosi is featured as the star — and villain — in many of the ads being run by the Congressional Leadership Fund, the political action committee run by Speaker Paul Ryan which is aimed at Republicans holding the House majority. Democrats feel emboldened given the large number of Republican House retirements, special elections around the country since 2016 where Democrats have won or did better than expected in Republican-leaning districts, and Pelosi’s robust fundraising.
The California Democrat raised $16 million in the first quarter, including $14 million in March alone. The tally was ahead of the $15 million raised by the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC which can raise unlimited sums, unlike Pelosi’s federally regulated candidate contributions.
National polls show Pelosi to have low favorability, which Congressional Leadership Fund executive director Corry Bliss calls “a blessing.”
“We’re going to spend millions this summer and this fall reminding people what Nancy Pelosi would do to this country if she were speaker again,” Bliss said.
There was no sign of any negative feeling about Pelosi in the banquet hall in Des Moines Sunday. Democratic activists cheered her introduction and stood applauding repeatedly during her 30-minute speech.
Asked why Polk County Democrats would invite her to a pivotal swing-voting congressional district, county party Chairman Sean Bagniewski said, “She is the most powerful Democrat in the United States of America. I think the better question is why wouldn’t we have her here?”