An Ohio Democratic congressman is the only announced challenger to the House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, but much of the agitation against her is coming from the Massachusetts delegation.
“Over the last 18 years, Democrats have only been in the majority of the House of Representatives for two terms and last week’s election results set us back even further,” wrote Ohio’s Rep. Timothy Ryan in a letter to his Democratic House colleagues Thursday.
“We have lost over 60 seats since 2010,” Ryan wrote. “We have the fewest Democrats in state and federal offices since Reconstruction. At this time of fear and disillusionment, we owe it to our constituencies to listen and bring a new voice into leadership.”
Ryan’s revolt comes as the Massachusetts House delegation is agitating against Pelosi.
Wednesday, the Democrats voted to postpone their leadership elections until Nov. 30, which would put it on the other side of Thanksgiving.
The delay was prompted by a letter from Massachusetts’ Rep. Seth Moulton, which pointed out that House Democrats struggled in 2016, only gaining six seats, when there were supposed to be so many more in play.
“We did worse than the lowest estimates for how many seats we would take back,” he wrote.
“As we begin the 115th Congress, House Democrats must take the time to reflect on the message the American people sent us last Tuesday. Delaying the vote on leadership positions is the necessary first step to have that conversation,” he said. “The American people cried out last week and we’ve got to listen.”
It is an open question if Moulton, a Marine veteran of the Iraq War, is supporting Ryan’s challenge or if he is mounting his own run for the top spot.
Pelosi also has a strong advocate in Rep. James McGovern, who was a long-time aide to legendary South Boston congressman Joseph Moakley.
McGovern told Breitbart News he was not taking opposition to the House’s top Democrat seriously.
“I think its more about people want to vent a little bit about what happened in the last election and about developing a strategy about moving forward,” he said.
“Obviously, our message did not get out the way we had hoped, so we need to figure out why that was the case—we had some members, who actually won in states where Trump won, so we can learn from their success,” he said.
McGovern said among House Democrats, there is a wide consensus that Pelosi has been effective. “We want to keep her.”
Going into the 2014 election cycle, Pelosi considered putting Massachusetts’ Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III in charge of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the political wing of the House Democrats, but in the end she decided against bringing the young Kennedy onto her leadership team.
Wednesday, Kennedy said he was not sure Pelosi should be his leader at all.
“I’m a fan of leader Pelosi, but I think there’s certainly going to be a conversation going forward about what our caucus needs to do, but she’s done a great job,” Kennedy said on WGBH-TV’s “Greater Boston” program.
On the same program, Rep. Michael Capuano, who was chosen by Pelosi to lead her 2007 transition team when she became the first female Speaker of the House, said if he was a coach, he would bench Pelosi.
Talking to reporters Tuesday, Rep. Richard Neal, the delegation’s senior member, said, according to the Washington Post: “To stick with the same message over four bad election cycles is a mistake. I think part of it is that the messengers have to change.”
Massachusetts skepticism over Pelosi’s leadership in not new.
In April 2015, the “Greater Boston” host Jim Braude, asked Capuano and Rep. Stephen Lynch if it was time for Pelosi to go.
Capuano said: “I have said from Day 1, when you do something—no matter how good I think it is—if it is not working, you should change what you are doing.”
The former mayor of Somerville said he was concerned that the Democratic leadership in the House did not understand there is a problem with losing more than 60 seats seats in the last three election cycles.
“So, she should go?” Braude asked again.
“I think that—or she should change,” Capuano said.
Braude asked Rep. Stephen Lynch the same question: “Should she go?”
Lynch said: “Nancy Pelosi will not lead us back into majority.”
“So, the answer is yes.”