Maine’s two congressional candidates differ whether 78-year-old establishment Democrat Nancy Pelosi should continue to lead their party in the U.S. House.
Rep. Chellie Pingree of District 1 is in full support of Pelosi’s return as House Speaker, but newly elected Rep. Jared Golden of District 2 has confirmed that he isn’t.
At a press conference held Friday following the Lewiston state rep’s successful election to the U.S. House, Golden said he’d stick to his commitment made earlier in his campaign about not voting to support Pelosi.
“I’ve been very clear that I’m not going to vote for Congresswoman Pelosi,” said Golden. “With all due respect for the hard work she’s done for many years, I believe it’s time for new leadership.”
So far, nobody has come forward with official plans to challenge Pelosi, who has led Democrats in the House since 2011. Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio has hinted at plans, but is yet to make a final decision. When asked who he’d support instead of Pelosi as House Speaker, Golden said “that no one has stepped forward that he’s aware of” but mentioned Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts as a “young leader that I respect.”
Rep. Moulton is among a group of returning Democrats actively trying to stop Pelosi from returning as House Speaker, preferring someone from the younger coalition of Democrats. Moulton is currently soliciting signatures of members and members-elect who don’t want to see Pelosi take the gavel again and told CBS News last week that he’s “100 percent confident” that he’ll have enough to block Pelosi. So far, at least 17 House Democrats, including Moulton have signed it. 12 other incoming Democrats, including Golden, have at some point expressed opposition to Pelosi.
If Democrats win the five outstanding House races that they’re projected to win, Democrats will control 233 seats in the U.S. House. Assuming every Republican votes against her, Pelosi will need 218 votes to win, which means she can only afford to lose the votes of 15 Democrats once a final floor vote is called on January 3.
Pelosi has weathered attempts to oust her before — in 2016, 63 Democrats voted against her in the caucus vote, but only four voted against her in the final House vote — and remains confident that she’ll win. Those loyal to her in Congress are currently circulating their own list of signatures on Capitol Hill which aims to prove that she has enough votes to win re-election — one which includes the support of Rep. Pingree.
“The next Congress will have more women serving in the U.S. House than ever and I believe we should have a female speaker,” Rep. Pingree told the Phoenix. “I’ll consider all the candidates before I vote, but it’s clear that Nancy is a very hard-working, experienced leader and she helped Democrats regain the majority after eight years.”
Rep. Pingree has joined at least 61 women members and members-elect of the U.S. House, who say that during a time when Americans are facing “unprecedented threats to democracy, women, minorities, and even the most basic American values by President Trump,” Pelosi’s proven record of “effective leadership” is what’s needed.
THANK YOU, NEXT
But progressive critics of Pelosi — who are often unfairly maligned as sexist or right-wing for even raising an issue with her leadership — are concerned that she won’t resist these “unprecedented threats” but rather compromise with them, like she did last year when she caved to Trump and failed to enshrine DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
After the midterms, Pelosi reignited these concerns when she told CNN that impeachment is a “political decision” rather than a “rule of law” and Democrats have an obligation to try and find “common ground” with President Trump and the Republican Party, and that she will “strive for bipartisanship with fairness on all sides.” Last week, President Trump endorsed Pelosi as House Speaker, tweeting "if they [Democrats] give her a hard time, perhaps we will add some Republican votes," which served as another red flag for progressives.
Environmental activists also take issue with Pelosi's slow response against climate change, in the face of a new UN report which warns that the Earth has less than a decade before climate change yields disastrous consequences. Over 200 climate activists, led by rising star and House freshman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), protested in Pelosi's office last week and urged her to do more than simply revive the Select Committee on Energy Independence (which ended in 2007 and didn't do much to curb carbon emissions). They also demanded that she draft a "Green New Deal" that would make the U.S. economy carbon neutral by 2020, and withdraw support from the fossil fuel industry.
This proposal isn’t a flash point for the leader - it’s a flash point for our party.We need to act on climate change NOW w/ a *fossil fuel $-free* Select Committee *with a mandate* to draft a Green New Deal.It’s our best chance to beat the clock.https://t.co/AwsjDi7ASZ— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) November 15, 2018
Liberal advocacy groups Democracy For America, and MoveOn.org also recently criticized Pelosi for a tax rule proposal that undercuts progressive policy goals like Medicare for All, a federal jobs program, and student debt relief by effectively giving Republicans the tools needed to block these efforts.
“It would be a profound mistake for House Democrats to retake Congress with dozens of candidates who ran on Medicare for All and then pass an absurd, right-wing framed rule that would actively prevent us from taking action on it,” Democracy for America tweeted on Friday.
More than half of registered Democrats want Pelosi out, according to a recent exit poll, and her unpopularity among progressives is largely due to her centrist positions and tepid response to the authoritarian tendencies of Trump and the GOP.