The effort of some House Democrats to deny Nancy Pelosi the speakership may be trending more whimper than bang.
On Monday, 16 members and members-in-waiting signed on to a letter pledging to vote for “new leadership” in the caucus’s internal elections next week and on the House floor in January. “We are thankful to Leader Pelosi for her years of service to our country and to our caucus,” the letter reads. “However, we also recognize that in this recent election, Democrats ran and won on a message of change … We promised to change the status quo, and we intend to deliver on that promise.”
The letter had been hyped in recent weeks, as leaders of the anti-Pelosi movement, including Representative Seth Moulton of Massachusetts and Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio, dropped hints that they had corralled as many as 20 members committed to opposing the California Democrat’s attempt to take back the speakership. She’s led House Democrats for 15 years, including four as speaker.
But Monday’s letter suggests that Pelosi’s naysayers could be contending with problems well beyond the most obvious one, which is that they’ve offered no alternative candidate for speaker. Multiple Democratic aides I spoke to have interpreted the letter’s language—that signees are committed to voting “for new leadership” rather than explicitly against Pelosi—as a sign that members wanted an “out” to vote for Pelosi should a challenger not emerge. Moreover, many of the incoming freshmen who pledged to oppose Pelosi on the campaign trail, including Pennsylvania’s Conor Lamb, Virginia’s Abigail Spanberger, Maine’s Jared Golden, New Jersey’s Mikie Sherrill, and Colorado’s Jason Crow, did not sign the letter.