Is it desperation, an act of identity politics, or both? Nancy Pelosi could be facing a huge obstacle in her path to reclaiming the House speakership: scores of newly elected Democrats have run on anti-Pelosi platforms. If this corps of anti-Pelosi Democrats decide to stick together, the California Democrat could find herself unable to clinch the votes. So, Nancy is whipping out the gender card—as expected—to justify her reclaiming to top House spot, despite failing miserably in previous election cycles to retake the lower chamber:
Nancy Pelosi is making gender a central part of her bid to reclaim the speaker’s gavel — leaning hard into the pitch that Democrats cannot oust the only woman at their leadership table following a historic election for women.
In addition to arguing she’s the best qualified for the job, the California Democrat and her allies are also framing a Pelosi victory as a matter of protecting political progress for women at a critical moment. Push her out, and men may take over the party at a time when more than 100 women are heading to Capitol Hill and after female voters have been thoroughly alienated by President Donald Trump. Embrace her, and she’ll prioritize legislation empowering women on issues ranging from equal pay to anti-harassment legislation.
“I think it would look ridiculous if we win back the House … we have a pink wave with women who have brought back the House, then you’re going to not elect the leader who led the way? No,” said Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.), who leads the Democratic Women’s Working Group. “That would be wrong.”
Incoming freshman Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) was blunter: “We have a president who is a misogynist, a president who has been antagonistic to women’s issues… There is no better person at the very top than” Pelosi.
By my count, 10 of these 37 anti-Pelosi Dems have won & 5 more are in races that are too close to call. Dems could wind up w/ only a dozen seats over 218... https://t.co/17YPWe3kFA— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) November 7, 2018
There already seems to be some fear that blocking Pelosi from within her own caucus is a possibility. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) pretty much told his colleagues to vote for Pelosi to avoid a divisive leadership battle (via Politico):
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), an influential House Democrat, pleaded Monday with colleagues and incoming House freshmen to reject the efforts of a "small group" of Democrats he said is "trying to generate opposition" to Nancy Pelosi's bid for the speakership.
"For two years, they asserted that with Nancy Pelosi as our leader, Democrats could never win back the House. They claimed that these relentless Republican attacks made Leader Pelosi appear too divisive, and they argued that she should step aside for the good of the party," Cummings wrote in a "Dear Colleague" letter to the incoming class of Democrats. "But then last Tuesday happened. And the American people obliterated the theory that Nancy Pelosi could not lead House Democrats to victory."
Yet, divisiveness could become the hallmark characteristic of the new Democratic caucus, as the leadership isn’t known for being accommodating to new members…at all. The big wigs give them no room to grow or gain experience to climb the leadership totem pole. So, as you can see, finding viable candidates to take on the veteran California Democrat is tough (via The Atlantic):
One of the great ironies of the 2018 midterm elections is that the Democratic Party’s emergent stars—Representatives Kyrsten Sinema and Beto O’Rourke—likely would have remained nameless had they tabled their Senate bids in favor of another term in the House.
This isn’t only because Senate candidates can attract a brighter spotlight than they would as one of hundreds in the lower chamber. It’s because the House Democratic caucus is increasingly viewed as an unfriendly environment for rising talent. Against a nearly two-decade-old leadership structure and term-limitless committee assignments, more and more members have begun to eye the Senate or state office as the antidote to their long-shot prospects of scaling ranks in the House.
That reality has been brought into relief in recent days, as House Democrats scramble to prepare for internal leadership elections later this month. A handful of members are attempting to deny Nancy Pelosi the votes she needs to be speaker, arguing that yet another term of septuagenarian reign—presumably with Steny Hoyer and James Clyburn at the top, as well—would ignore the desire for change voiced by voters earlier this month.
The problem, of course, is that Pelosi’s detractors have failed to put forth a viable alternative. But they argue that this, too, is an indictment of current leadership: It’s not so much that the caucus lacks a solid bench, their thinking goes, but more that its most talented members have been given little opportunity to flex their muscles. “The notion that there’s no one more experienced than Nancy Pelosi is a self-fulfilling prophecy because you can’t have experience if you can’t gain experience,” one senior Democratic aide, who requested anonymity for fear of backlash, told me. “Our best members will keep leaving when they continue to see there’s no movement at the top.”
So, it looks like they’re stuck with Ms. “let’s clap for pre-existing medical conditions” Pelosi. Though some, like Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez, are making it known they're not going to kowtow blindly.