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Pelosi faces rare challenge as House Democrats vote on leadership

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Amid some internal grumbling over their party’s election defeat in the race for President, House Democrats will vote today on Capitol Hill on their leadership for 2017, as Nancy Pelosi faces a rare challenge from within, by Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio.

Ryan and his supporters are making a familiar argument – their party lost in November, their leaders have been around for a long time, and they should be held responsible for the failure at the ballot box.

“Tim represents a new generation of leaders who are ready to make real change,” said Rep. Seth Moulton, a freshman from Massachusetts, one Ryan backer who said it’s time for something new for Democrats.

“I have great respect for Leader Pelosi and for all that she’s done for our caucus, our party and the American people,” said Rep. Kathleen Rice, a first term Democrat from New York.

“I also believe the results of this election demand that we look honestly and critically at ourselves,” Rice added.

“We need a new direction and message in order to retake the majority in the House,” argues Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR), who was first elected in 2008.

While the statements sound good for Ryan, the numbers don’t – as Pelosi is favored to stay in her leadership post that she has held since 2003.

In recent days, Pelosi has not focused on Ryan, but rather on bringing in younger Democrats to spots inside her leadership team, as she has taken aim at the President-Elect and the GOP.

“We have all been shaken by the election of Donald Trump and by what it means for the American people whom it is our honor and responsibility to champion,” Pelosi wrote fellow Democrats before a Thanksgiving break.

“I am energized by the enthusiasm of Members and our outside allies who see the opportunities that lie ahead,” Pelosi wrote in another letter, where she name-checked a number of her colleagues.

In the halls, few believe that Pelosi is in any trouble, even as Ryan has said he is in “striking distance.”

“I applaud him (Ryan) for his courage to run,” said Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), a more moderate Democrat who has steadfastly refused to support Pelosi.

Those votes by Cooper have often been lonely protest votes on the House floor against Pelosi, and they may amount to exactly that in the House Democratic Caucus again on Wednesday.

But this is a secret ballot, and if there is one truth about these type of leadership elections in the Congress, colleagues tell you they will vote for you – and then they don’t.


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