Why Nancy Pelosi Will Be House Speaker

The Republicans are trying to stampede Democrats into dumping Pelosi as House Democratic leader and presumptive speaker if Dems do win back the House. You know, too old, too San Francisco (wink-wink), and, well, too female. My bet is that this ploy won’t work.

For starters, the identity of the party leader simply doesn’t affect midterm House elections. Newt Gingrich was monumentally unpopular nationally in 1994, but that didn’t prevent Republicans from gaining a landslide midterm win.

In districts where Republicans have made Pelosi a major issue, as many as 40 Democratic House candidates, such as Conor Lamb, who won a special election to a Pennsylvania seat last March, have taken that issue off the table by saying they’ll vote for someone else.

But there aren’t enough such Democrats to deny Pelosi the speakership. In 2016, Tim Ryan of Ohio mounted a challenge to Pelosi, as the young socially moderate white guy from the Midwest. It didn’t fly. Pelosi trounced him in the Democratic Caucus by a vote of 134 to 63.

There is tremendous loyalty to Pelosi in the caucus because she is such a stunningly effective leader, and no sense of a building wave of more defections. So even if 30 or 40 newly elected Democrats vote for somebody else, that’s well short of 134. And other new members, especially women, will support Pelosi pushing her support well beyond half the caucus.

There is also the problem that you can’t beat somebody with nobody. The other members of the House Democratic leadership are all in their 70s. If the point is to transition to a new generation, her Number Two, Steny Hoyer, the Democratic whip, at 79, is older than Pelosi. So there’s no logical rival.

But the best reason to keep Pelosi is that the Republicans are so eager to get her out. Better than anybody, they know just how effective she is.

By | 2018-09-10T15:27:54+00:00 September 10th, 2018|Kuttner on TAP|0 Comments

About the Author:

Robert Kuttner is co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect as well as a Demos Distinguished Senior Fellow. He was a longtime columnist for Business Week, and continues to write columns in the Boston Globe. He co-founded the Economic Policy Institute in Washington and serves on its executive committee.

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