Rep. Jim Himes: Top 3 Democratic Leaders in Late 70s Is ‘A Problem’

New Democrat Coalition chairman won‘t say whether he‘ll back Pelosi for speaker

Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., says it’s “a problem” that the top three House Democratic leaders are in their late 70s. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The chairman of the centrist New Democrat Coalition wouldn’t say Friday whether he would back Nancy Pelosi for House Democratic leader but he did vocalize an issue with the current leadership team.

“The fact that our top three leaders are in their late 70s — I don’t care who those leaders are — that is in fact a problem,” Connecticut Rep. Jim Himes told CNN.

Pelosi, 78, has said she plans to run for speaker again if Democrats win the majority in November. House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, 79, and Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn, 78, are interested in running for speaker should Pelosi fail to get the votes. 

Himes, 52, who chairs the 68-member New Democrat Coalition, declined to say whether he’d support Pelosi for speaker. 

“I have not made up a decision because I don’t know who’s running, so you’re not going to get a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ out of me today,” he said.

Still, Himes noted that Pelosi has a strength that recent Republican speakers, including Paul D. Ryan and John A. Boehner, have not demonstrated — an ability to keep her caucus together and pass major legislation such as the 2010 health care law. 

“Her historical accomplishments in terms of her ability to get stuff done is without parallel,” he said.

Pelosi’s “operational capabilities” notwithstanding, Himes noted the need for a generational change in Democratic leadership, although he wouldn’t say whether that should occur this November. 

“I don’t care how good you are. There is a generational gap,” he said. “Very clearly, soon, the Democratic Party is going to need to get some faces and some people who can speak to people in their 40s, to people in their 20s, no doubt about that.”

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