House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) responded to questions during her weekly press briefing Thursday about Democratic candidate Conor Lamb distancing himself from her during his campaign in Pennsylvania’s special election. Pelosi dismissed Lamb’s disavowal of her, saying it was not a factor in his success. Lamb currently holds the lead in the race against Republican Rick Saccone although the race has yet to be officially called.
“Conor Lamb ran an ad looking at the camera saying ‘I do not support Nancy Pelosi,'” one reporter pointed out, “he ran against you the entire time. Do you think other candidates should do the same thing and does that pose a problem for you if you take back the House?”
Pelosi objected to that characterization arguing, “I don’t think that he ran against me the entire time, I think he ran on his positive agenda.”
She called Lamb’s campaign a “very issue-oriented campaign,” adding that millions of dollars were “coming in from the Koch brothers, and that will happen all over the country, demonizing me as the leader of the Democratic party.”
Pelosi said she didn’t think “your opponents should choose your party’s leaders.”
“I just wanted him to win,” she said of Lamb. “I don’t think that really had that much impact on the race, he won, if he hadn’t won you might have a question but he won, he won the race.”
In a campaign ad, Lamb very clearly distanced himself from Pelosi.
"My opponent wants you to believe that the biggest issue in this campaign is Nancy Pelosi. It's all a big lie," he said in the ad. "I've already said on the front page of the newspaper that I don't support Nancy Pelosi. The real issues are the ones that affect your lives."
Pelosi went on to claim that Republicans target her because she supports “poor children” and LGBT issues.
“They’re coming after me because of my city, they’re against LGBT and they’re against poor children,” Pelosi said. “That’s been my mantra, the poor children in America that I’m here to support.”
Pelosi cautioned against some sort of model of candidates distancing themselves from her in Congressional races, citing instances where this hasn’t worked out well.
“One candidate in Texas went out and said he would not be for me and he came in fourth, he came in fourth so let’s not read too much in to this,” she said.
However, Politico reported Wednesday that more Democrats are now likely to disavow Pelosi in competitive races. Axios is now reporting that Pelosi’s days in leadership are numbered if Democrats take back the House in November. Sources told Axios that Lamb’s win was now a “template for moderates.”
House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) responded to questioning Wednesday about Lamb’s strategy of distancing himself from Pelosi by arguing that Republicans bringing up Pelosi in Congressional races in the first place was “sexist.”