Democrats opposed to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) are reportedly urging Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) to challenge Pelosi for House Speaker.
“People are asking me to do it, and I am thinking about it,” Fudge told the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Wednesday. “I need to give it some thought and see if I have an interest. I am at the very beginning of this process. It is just in discussion at this point.”
Fudge is reportedly one of 17 Democrats who signed a letter pledging not to vote for Pelosi on the House floor, which would complicate Pelosi’s efforts to get the 218 votes needed get back her Speakership. Pelosi’s allies are reportedly trying to convince anti-Pelosi Democrats and perhaps even some Republicans to vote “present” on the House floor to lower the number of votes she would need to win. Since Pelosi just needs a majority of Democrats to be nominated for Speaker, her nomination is hardly in doubt.
Anti-Pelosi Democrats told HuffPost that they believe even more Democrats could sign the letter but are hesitant to announce their intentions at the moment. HuffPost noted that the anti-Pelosi faction is “working to gather as many names as possible as quick as possible, as they believe the longer they remain in the shadows, the more likely it is that Pelosi could flip some of their members.”
Pelosi and her allies have been trying to use the gender card to lock up her bid to take back her Speakership, but Fudge’s candidacy would make the gender argument less powerful.
In addition, after an election cycle in which Democrats elected black candidates like Andrew Gillum in and Stacey Abrams in primaries and energized its left-wing base, Fudge is also reportedly “dismayed that neither of the party’s two top leaders” is a person of color. She also reportedly added that an African-American woman should be in the party’s leadership, especially when black women have been the backbone of the party for so long.
“When you look at the people who support this party the most, they are women and African Americans and especially African American women,” Fudge reportedly added. “We keep talking about diversity, but there is nothing diverse about the top of our ticket. We have to not just talk the talk, but walk the walk.”
Even if Fudge decides against challenging Pelosi, the anti-Pelosi Democrats are trying to get enough support to stop Pelosi from getting to 218 votes on the floor on the first ballot even though they have not found a candidate to challenge Pelosi as of now.
Democrats like Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Kurt Schrader (D-OR), Seth Moulton (D-MA), and Filemon Vela (D-TX) have publicly declared their opposition to Pelosi this week, with Schrader reportedly going on the record to say the group has enough votes to “ensure that she cannot become speaker.”
Pelosi has been going on a full-court press in recent days to lock up her Speakership, meeting with top union leaders, progressive Democrats, and the extremely important Congressional Black Caucus on Wednesday. Publicly, Pelosi has confidently insisted that she “will be the speaker of the House no matter what” her critics like Moulton have been saying.
But Mikie Sherrill, a new Democrat who got elected in New Jersey by telling voters that she would oppose Pelosi, told the Washington Post on Wednesday that she expects plenty of Democrats to emerge and ultimately challenge Pelosi, implying that she believes Pelosi may not make it past the first ballot.
“I think there are some great people that will be coming forward, and I’m excited to see who those people might be,” Sherrill reportedy said. “They haven’t identified themselves yet, but we have such a deep bench of talent in the Democratic Party.”
Veteran Democrats, including Schrader, though, are warning that Pelosi, a legendary vote-counter, should not be underestimated. Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA), the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, also told CNN on Wednesday evening that though he is “not for or against” Pelosi, he “wouldn’t bet against Nancy Pelosi.”