House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is facing tough questions about her ability to win enough votes to retain her leadership, after Democrats shrunk their House majority and moderates in the party plotted to back a challenger.
Democrats went into Tuesday night expecting to pad their majority in the House by marching deeper into President Donald Trump’s 2016 win territory, but instead Republicans made gains.
Already, two centrist Democrats in the House say they are contacting colleagues to round up support for House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, a top Pelosi lieutenant, for Speaker in the next Congress, according to The Hill.
Several moderate House Dems only won tough re-elections after vowing not to back Pelosi for another term as Speaker – and they view Jeffries as a potential establishment leader who could garner support from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s powerful ‘squad’ of progressives.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi faces threats to her leadership after House Democrats lost several incumbencies to the GOP and saw their majority shrink
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s powerful ‘squad’ of progressives expanded its influence, seeing three new allies elected to the House on Tuesday
‘He bridges moderates and progressives better than anyone. And most importantly, he’s not Nancy Pelosi,’ one Democratic lawmaker told The Hill of Jeffries. ‘He’s the only one prepared and positioned’ to be Speaker.
Publicly, Jeffries has shot down any notion of seeking the top leadership role, remaining loyal to Pelosi and saying he is focused on retaining his current job.
The Speaker is chosen by a majority vote of the entire House, meaning that in theory, a handful of centrist Democrats could force the party’s hand in the case of a slim majority by threatening to side with Republicans.
However, it’s unclear whether Ocasio-Cortez’s powerful faction would back Jeffries for Speaker, after she previously threatened to back a primary challenger against the fellow New York Democrat in the 2020 election.
All four members of Ocasio-Cortez’s squad won re-election on Tuesday, and the faction added three new progressive allies in districts in Missouri and New York.
Pelosi was notably quiet on Wednesday regarding her party’s shrinking margin in the House.
She didn’t directly address her losses in a letter to her Democratic colleagues, aside from calling the election ‘challenging.’
Two centrist Democrats in the House say they are contacting colleagues to round up support for House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (above) for House Speaker
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, said the erosion of the Democratic majority could threaten Pelosi’s grip on the Speaker’s chair.
‘I know the vote on the floor is difficult for Speaker. I know there was a number of people who did not vote for her last time,’ McCarthy said at a press conference Wednesday, alluding to Democratic defectors two years ago.
‘And as our numbers continue to grow, I think at the end of the day, no matter where we end up, we’ll be able to have a very big say, or even run the floor when it comes to policy,’ McCarthy predicted.
After the 2018 election, Pelosi survived a challenge to her leadership of the caucus — but was on more solid footing with her party’s control of the House than she will be in this cycle.
After the votes are all counted in Tuesday’s election, Republicans could very well have a net gain of 10 House seats.
Pelosi led the House with 232 seats compared to Republicans’ 197 going into Election Day, but it now appears that the GOP will have somewhere north of 200 seats, holding a solid minority with more power than they’ve had the last two years.
The Democratic leader along with Chairwoman of House Democrats’ campaign arm Rep. Cheri Bustos of Illinois predicted a sunny outcome for Democrats Tuesday, claiming they would defend the 2018 gains and flip districts previously thought to be in safe Republican territory.
‘I think we are going to see some wins in these deep red districts that over time you’re going to see going from ruby red to purple to even blue,’ Bustos said Tuesday.
After the votes are all counted in Tuesday’s election, Republicans could very well have a net gain of at least 10 House seats
One of the biggest wins for Republicans Tuesday was finally kicking Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson, 76, (left) out of his seat in Minnesota’s 7th District after 15 terms. Republican candidate Michelle Fischbach (right) solidly defeated him with 53.6 per cent of the vote to his 39.8 per cent
She also leaned into the uncertainty of this years’ election, adding in her remarks ‘this is an Election Day that may end up looking like an Election Week.’
While Republicans overall are declaring Tuesday a win for their Party in the House, more progressive Democrats, including all four members of the ‘squad’, earned a win in their House races.
Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York; Ilhan Omar of Minnesota; Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts; and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan all solidly won reelection bids in their respective districts.
They also added a few new members to their ‘squad,’ to the dismay of Pelosi – a more establishment Democrat whose views often don’t line up with those in the more progressive arm of the Party.
Cori Bush, who won in Missouri’s 1st District, was immediately embraced by the ‘squad.’
The group also added its first two male members with Jamaal Bowman, who won his race in New York’s 16th District, and Mondaire Jones in New York 17.
Bowman said, ‘2018 was just the beginning when my sisters in The Squad were able to win their positions.’
‘Now we’re more than doubling up, in terms of those who are coming in with an unapologetically progressive platform rooted in centering racial and economic justice,’ he added.
The one area Democrats did win – the progressive arm of the party as all four members of the ‘squad’ won their reelection bids. From left to right: Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts
Omar celebrated on Twitter the sweep victories with four separate graphics and the message: ‘Our sisterhood is resilient’
Although Ocasio-Cortez is currently the youngest member of the House, elected at 29 and now 31-years-old, Republicans will now hold that seat with Madison Cawthorn in North Carolina.
The 25-year-old is taking over former Rep. Mark Meadow’s seat in North Carolina’s deep red 11th District after he vacated the seat earlier this year when he became the White House Chief of Staff earlier this year.
Potentially the biggest House win for Republicans was flipping Minnesota’s 7th District seat red after trying to unseat Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson there for decades and 15 terms.
Peterson, 76, has held his seat in the midwest state since 1991, but was solidly beat out by Republican Michelle Fischbach who earned 53.6 per cent of the vote to his 39.8 per cent. Only Minneapolis, the state’s largest city, and its suburbs voted for Peterson’s reelection, yet again.
With the help of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), the GOP had the funds and organization to mobilize House race efforts.
The GOP added several women to their ranks Tuesday night.
‘We defied the odds. It’s the night of the Republican women,’ House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told Politico early Wednesday Morning. ‘The Democrats never solved one problem in their majority. They promised they would govern differently, and they didn’t.’
Madison Cawthorn, the 25-year-old from North Carolina, will become the youngest member of the House when he takes his oath in January after winning Mark Meadows’ seat in the deep red 11th district after he vacated it to become President Trump’s chief of staff
Republicans beat two South Florida Democratic incumbents in the Miami area, which usually goes strongly blue – especially in presidential elections.
Democratic Rep. Donna Shalala, who at 78 at the time was the oldest freshman woman ever elected, lost her seat to broadcast journalist Maria Elvira Shalazar in Florida’s 27th District. And Democratic Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell lost her seat to Republican Carlos Gimenez, a Cuban American, who won the 26th District seat.
Incumbent Democrats were also defeated by GOP candidates in New Mexico, Oklahoma and South Carolina and Republicans were able to hold onto vulnerable districts in places like Texas and elsewhere.
Nancy Mace took Rep. Joe Cunningham’s House seat in South Carolina 1st District.
Republican candidate Nicole Malliotakis is ahead in New York’s 11th District, which includes Staten Island – and is on track to beat incumbent Democrat Max Rose with a 15.8 per cent margin as of Wednesday morning.
Democratic Reps. Xochitl Torres Small of New Mexico and Kendra Horn of Oklahoma will also both vacate their seats for Republicans to take over in January.
In Virginia’s 7th District, which spans a large area west, north west and south west of Richmond, Republican Nick Freitas is on track to defeat Democrat incumbent Abigail Spanberger.