Politics

House Democrats to Stick to Schedule on Leadership Elections

Pelosi tells caucus that members indicated ‘strong desire‘ to proceed

Nancy Pelosi has not given any signs that she might step down as House Democratic leader. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told members of the Democratic caucus Friday that she won’t delay leadership elections. They will be held Nov. 17. 

Democrats had floated the idea of holding off until the week after Thanksgiving. But Pelosi said in a letter to her colleagues that members had a “strong desire” not to delay so they could prepare for the lame-duck session.

“Members have indicated a strong desire to proceed with elections next week in order to prepare forcefully for the lame-duck session and the challenges we will face in January,” Pelosi wrote.

Democrats were stunned this week by the election of Republican President-elect Donald Trump. They also fell short of projections in the number of House seats they picked up and failed to regain control of the Senate.

Pelosi said on Election Day that the chances of Democrats taking back the House, or even picking up the 20 seats they had hoped for, were dashed by the actions of FBI Director James B. Comey.

Comey’s announcement that his agency would review additional emails potentially related to an investigation into Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server 11 days before the election threw a “Molotov cocktail” into the Democrats’ electoral prospects, Pelosi said.

There’s no sign the minority leader will walk away from her post, but she has also not formally announced that she is running. Pelosi became the first woman elected to lead a party caucus in 2002 but has yet to build up a successor or let the more moderate minority whip, Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, become the top House Democrat.

Earlier Friday, a group of female Democratic members circulated a letter urging Pelosi to continue serving in her post, writing that “now, more than ever, our caucus and our country need your strategic, battle-tested leadership to guide us through the years ahead.”

“This has been a very sad and trying week for all of us,” Pelosi wrote. “As always, our caucus is greatly  strengthened by the constructive and candid suggestions from members.”

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