Politics

16 Pelosi Opponents Sign Letter Saying They Won't Vote For Her for Speaker

Opposition could spell trouble for Pelosi in speaker election on the floor

Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., pictured speaking to reporters in the Capitol on November 15, 2018, is one of 16 Democrats who signed a letter saying they will not vote for Nancy Pelosi for speaker. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 2:53 p.m. | Sixteen Democrats have signed a letter released Monday saying they will vote against Nancy Pelosi for speaker.

While the opposition would appear to be more votes than the California Democrat can afford to lose in a floor vote, two of the signees — Ben McAdams of Utah and Anthony Brindisi of New York — are in races that have yet to be called. 

Counting only those races that have been called, there will be 232 Democrats next year, meaning Pelosi can only lose 14 of them in a floor vote for speaker and get to 218. That’s the number she’ll need to be elected speaker unless some members don’t vote or vote “present,” thus lowering the majority threshold.  

The letter shows exactly 14 elected Democrats opposed to Pelosi, not technically enough to block her. If McAdams and Brindisi win, then number of Democrats Pelosi can afford to lose will go up proportionally to match the number of opponents on the letter. 

But there at least a few members and members-elect who have vowed to oppose Pelosi on the floor that did not sign the letter, including Conor Lamb of Pennsylvania and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia. 

Pelosi’s critics spent all last week talking about the letter, saying confidently that they had enough commitments to ensure Pelosi would not be elected speaker on the floor.

However, they had expected to get at least 20 signatures on the letter, so releasing it with only 16 suggests their opposition movement may be weakening.

Notably absent from the letter is Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge, who is considering challenging Pelosi for speaker. Fudge said she wasn’t deterred from running after meeting with Pelosi Friday but that she wouldn’t make a decision until after Thanksgiving. 

During a press conference Thursday, Pelosi said if the speaker vote were held that day she’d have the support needed to win the gavel. But she contradicted her own claim as she acknowledged that at that time, the letter had 17 signatures (seemingly counting Fudge). 

The letter itself doesn’t outline the opponents’ case against Pelosi, whom they call “a historic figure whose leadership has been instrumental to some of our party’s most important legislative achievements.”

Rather, they argue that Democrats won the majority “on the backs of candidates who said that they would support new leadership” and that voters want to see change in Washington.

“We promised to change the status quo, and we intend to deliver on that promise,” they wrote. “Therefore, we are committed to voting for new leadership in both our Caucus meeting and on the House Floor.”

The leaders of the letter had hoped it would show the opposition against Pelosi was strong and that she’d ultimately decide to step aside. While that always seemed unlikely, the chances that happens now appear even smaller. 

“If your strategy relies upon Nancy Pelosi giving up, you will lose every single time,” a senior Democratic aide said. “Ninety-four percent of the Caucus didn’t sign this letter.” 

The 16 Democrats who signed the letter are:

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