House Democratic leaders agreed Wednesday to stick with their plan to hold leadership elections next week, Democratic sources said.
“Most Members want to get the election over with and be able to move on to the legislative things we need to do in the lame duck,” said one Democratic source with knowledge of the call.
Democratic Reps. Peter DeFazio (Ore.) and Marcy Kaptur (Ohio) are circulating a letter asking to delay leadership elections, now scheduled for Nov. 17, until December so Members can digest last week’s historic losses.
One Democratic source said Speaker Nancy Pelosi in particular has an interest in getting the elections over with on Nov. 17. The California Democrat’s decision to stay on as Minority Leader has fueled Democratic infighting, and a handful of moderates have said they will not support her as their leader. As time passes, the risk grows that moderates could begin to try to oust her from leadership, the source said.
There also is a sense among some Democrats that leaders need to bring a quick end to the contentious Minority Whip race between Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Md.) and Majority Whip James Clyburn (S.C.) so the Caucus can move forward.
“I would prefer if it was worked out and we didn’t have a ballot ... so that we don’t have a fight,” said Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), a Hoyer supporter. “Certainly that would be the best thing for the Caucus.”
Pallone said there was “a good chance” that Hoyer and Clyburn could work out a deal so Members wouldn’t have to choose between them.
A Democratic strategist predicted things could get tense next week — when the more than 60 Democrats who just lost their seats are back for the lame-duck session — if the whip race is not resolved beforehand.
“If this doesn’t get resolved by the end of this week, there’s going to be multiple problems,” the strategist said. “It could get really ugly and out of hand.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.