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Nancy Pelosi May Not Remain the Speaker Even if Democrats DO Keep Control of the House

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

It remains important to mention that it's not worth letting Democrats, the mainstream media, and prognosticators get you down when it comes to them emphasizing the possibility that Republicans may not take back control of the House after all. Even if Democrats were to remain in power, though, it's not looking too good for current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).


CNN spoke to more than two dozen Democrats about Pelosi's political future, with the findings published on Friday morning. "Democrats are split about that possibility, with a sizable contingent eager for new leadership regardless of the outcome, even if she'd be the heavy favorite to hold onto the gavel," the piece explains. 

Also mentioned is how Pelosi made a deal in 2018 with dissident members that she would only serve for four years, but it appears Democrats might not care about keeping to such an agreement. 

From CNN:

The 2018 deal Pelosi agreed to with dissident members limiting her to four more years as speaker was an informal agreement, and caucus rules were never changed imposing any time limits on her tenure. Several members told CNN that if the midterms go well for their party, a combination of shocked euphoria and deference to both her fundraising prowess and the importance of female voters, could make them reconsider.

The chatter from Democrats who are against Pelosi gets more intense when there's not a name attributed. Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN), however, is on record saying he wants someone new, after supporting her previously. "It's time for generational diversity of our leadership ranks -- regardless of the outcome of the election," he said.

As the piece also mentions:

Privately, the assessment tends to be blunter.

"She has to go," one senior Democrat said. "No way she can stay," added another long-time House Democrat. "She doesn't have the votes," another veteran Democrat said, pointing to some vulnerable frontline Democrats who have vowed not to vote for her.

Indeed, all this is running up against deep tensions among House Democrats, and in their party overall, that they're overdue for major changes in their leadership. Yet Pelosi's two deputies, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, who, like the speaker, are north of 80, have surprised colleagues by privately signaling they might be interested in succeeding her if and when she leaves.


Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), who did not vote for Pelosi last time, is also quoted as saying "we really do need to grow new leaders," pointing to age of Pelosi, 82; House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, 83; and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, 82 as factors. 

When it comes to the possibility that Pelosi "doesn't have the votes" to be speaker again, it's worth reminding she nearly didn't before. She didn't win until after the first round of voting at the start of the new Congress. Members who had tested positive for COVID-19 were even allowed to show up to the Capitol to cast their votes for Pelosi.

As for Pelosi's Democratic successor, that seems to be another issue of broken promises and Democrats in disarray. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), is mentioned as one, as is Hoyer, who said "I don't think we're ruling out anything."

But Hoyer not bowing out when Pelosi does could complicate things. "It has long been viewed within the caucus that Hoyer would step down when Pelosi did. And several younger members expressed confusion that the 83-year-old moderate longtime leader would try to stand in the way of generational change in leadership, especially if that pits him against Jeffries, who is African-American and 30 years his junior," the piece explains. 

Pelosi herself may not have even decided yet, and has gotten snappy with reporters who ask for clarification:

Pelosi has been sticking to her well-known bullishness about Democrats' prospects, and her own sense of them. At a news conference on Wednesday, she looked out at the gathered reporters and said, "Even though there are some among you who belittle my political instincts and the rest, I got us here twice to the majority. And I don't intend on giving it up."

When pressed on whether she would answer the question on whether she would seek another term as speaker, she refused to entertain it.

"No. I said first we're going to win. And that's really the issue," she said. "Are we speaking a different language? First we win, then we decide."

One source close to Pelosi believes the speaker has yet to decide what she might do if Democrats keep control of the House.

Drew Hammill, a spokesperson for the speaker, offered a stock answer when asked about speculation about her future: "The Speaker is not on a shift. She's on a mission."


Pelosi's plans seems potentially more clear-cut, should her party lose the House. As Leah and Matt covered earlier this month, she wants to be the ambassador to Italy. Stunningly, the role still hasn't been filled, making it the only G-7 country where there isn't an ambassador. 

When it comes to Republican's chances, ReaClearPolitics currently has Democrats with a 1.3 percent advantage on the generic ballot, while FiveThirtyEight similarly has them at a 1.5 percent advantage. That's nothing that can't be overcome. It also might not be entirely accurate.

It's also worth reminding that Republican performance in the 2010 and 2014 midterms was underestimated as well. 


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