Blogger Candidate Forum is stepping into the blogosphere today to give Blogger a little break, and none too soon. It seems that Mr. Donald Trump unloaded a big pile of Schiff over the weekend. During a visit to fire damaged areas in California, once again blamed the state's forest management service for not cleaning up the forest floors, then blathered on about working with envirnomental groups to make the forests safe. Safe from whom? Then, in a truly face palming moment, in front of Governor Jerry Brown and Governor-elect Gavin Newsom, he carried on about how the Finns have little or brush fires because they rake the forest leaves. This unleashed a Schiff load of memes that had Blogger and The Candidate Forum in stitches. Mr. Trump was not done. In a tweet, the president tauted incoming House Intelligence Committee chair Representive Adam Schiff (D-CA) over his objection to interim Attorney General Matt Whitker. The president referred to Rep. Schiff as " little Adam Schitt," unleashing more hilarity. One more thing before we get to today's subject. Apparently the president believes he could have taken out Osama bin Laden faster than the Navy SEALS. Whatever. Can we talk about Nancy?
Nancy is House Minority Leader and potential Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Typically when the House changes majority party, the minority leader is elected Speaker of the House. It is a very prestigious position because the Speaker controls what bills get to the floor, controls the debate, campaigns and fundraises for same party candidates, and is second in the line of presidential succession. Rep. Pelosi served as Speaker between 2007 and 2010; is currently on track to resume the post. Or is she?
Today, a highly anticipated letter was made public in which sixteen Democrats declared that they would not support Rep. Pelosi's bid to reclaim the post. Although the letter praised her service, it argued that it was time for a change in leadership. The group wrote,
Our majority came on the back of candidates who said that they would support new leadership because voters in hard-won districts, and across the country, want to see real change in Washington,.... We promised to change the status quo, and we intend to deliver on that promise. (politico.com; Nov. 19, 2018)
The letter underscores just how serious the challenge Rep. Pelosi is facing in her quest to gather the necessary 218 votes she needs to win the internal election scheduled for January 3rd. Now that the midterm election dust has more or less settled, the Democrats are on track to win 233 seats, which means she can only afford to lose no more than 15 seats. That is not a lot of room to maneuver. The sixteen Democrats were joined by three supporting non-signatories, bringing the number of representatives opposed to her re-election, enough to end her bid. (Ibid) The nineteen are standing resolute on the matter. They refuse to change their minds. This begs the question, if not Nancy Pelosi, then who else is qualified to be Speaker of The House of Representatives?
Before we tackle this question, we need to take a look some reasons behind the opposition and why some are are still supporting her. First, let us take a look at the opposition to her resumption of the Speaker's job. The main argument put forth by the her opponents is that is is time for new leadership. One of the opposition, incoming Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) told CNN on Friday that, "she also would not sign any letter but said she would still vote against Pelosi on the floor" (cnn.com; Nov. 19, 2018). She went to say that following a meeting with Rep. Pelosi,
I've been very clear about my position and that remains the same,.... I will be voting, but I will be not voting for her (Ibid)
It is also possible that Ms. Spanberger's fellow freshmen, also Pelosi critics, could be "no" votes.
Elaina Plott reported in today's The Atlantic online, "...Monday's letter suggests that Pelosi's naysayers could be contending with problems well beyond he most obvious one, which is that they've offered no alternative candidate for speaker" (theatlantic.com; Nov. 19, 2018). Ms. Plott spoke with Democratic aides interpreted the letter's language as "...signees are committed to voting for 'for new leadership' rather than explicitly for Pelosi--as a sign that members wanted an 'out' to vote for Pelosi should a challenger not emerge" (Ibid). Further, many of the incoming freshmen, committed Pelosi no votes, did not sign the letter. One Democratic strategist told The Atlantic,
Think about the fact that there were 63 public 'No' votes two years ago, and now there are 16. (Ibid)
This is a reference to a vote taken in 2016 to elect Rep. Pelosi House Minority Leader. The strategist continues,
Members are realizing that we just came off a huge base election ha hat was fueled by suburban women...And now we're going to try and get rid of the woman? (Ibid)
The letter signatories argue that it [the letter] is a critical first step towards inducting a new speaker. The opposition has privately expressed confidence that a viable challenger will emerge. One anonymous source told The Atlantic "that many ostensibly anti-Pelosi freshmen declined to sign he letter because they'd rather break the news on their own term" (Ibid).
Rep. Nancy Pelosi is not sitting back and letting her surrogates do all the work. She is a very experienced and shrewd operator, cutting deal with the Progressive Caucus, promising proportional representation on marquee committees in exchange for support. Ohio Representative Marcia Fudge has been the only one, so far, to publicly express interest in challenging Rep. Pelosi. Rep. Fudge is one of about 10 House members who want to change the rules for internal elections to make it more difficult for Rep. Pelosi to get the votes she needs to move her candidacy to a floor vote. Aides of some of the anti-Pelosi faction have privately acknowledged while the letter is essentially pointless but maintain more supporters for the cause will emerge. An anonymous source told The Atlantic,
The danger for Pelosi is not how many members are on this letter right now,.... It's how many are yet to come forward. (ibid)
In the face of the seen and yet seen opposition, Rep. Pelosi remains confident she will take the speaker's gavel from outgoing Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WS). Really, the debate over whether or not Rep. Pelosi is a proxy battle over the future of the broader Democratic Party. This year's incoming representatives are more ethnically diverse and some believe that House leadership should reflect Democratic voters who supported the party or those who crossed party lines to vote Republican in previous elections. Some wonder if a less polarizing voice should lead the party.
House Minority Leader Pelosi has been a convenient target for Republicans since her last tenure as speaker. One of Mr. Trump and the Republican party's election strategies was tying all Democratic candidates to Rep. Pelosi, a liberal lawmaker from San Francisco. This approach worked with voters who were concerned about the growing influence of the left, but ultimate, she was a critical factor in Democrats retaking the House and some are using this argument to support her remaining in leadership. Other than leading the Democratic Party to victory in the House, why else would the House want to make her speaker again?
Rep. Pelosi has already won the endorsements of progressive groups such as MoveOn.org and members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Importantly, she won the endorsement of rising star Rep.-elect Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez who enthusiastically called her the most progressive candidate and all of the rebellion for speakership are challenges to he right (wsj.com; Nov. 19, 2018).
The anti-Pelosi make a valid argument about wanting a change in leadership that reflects the more ethnically diverse chamber but lack any viable challenger. The pro-Pelosi faction argue her experience and her ability to get the job done. For her part, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sees herself as a transitional figure. She expects the Democrats to hold the House of Representatives for sometime but does not see herself as Speaker for a long time. She believes another Democrat will take her place, possibly Rep. Adam Schiff? The Candidate Forum is looking forward to the next State of The Union address when Mr. Donald Trump will have to say Madame Speaker.