Tim Ryan, an Ohio congressman upset with the Democratic party’s tepid showing last week in many Midwestern states, Thursday officially challenged Nancy Pelosi for the House Democratic leader’s job.
“What we are doing right now is not working,” Ryan said in a letter to colleagues.
He’s a longshot to topple Pelosi, D-Calif., when Democrats choose leaders Nov. 30.
But his is the most serious bid to unseat the Democrats’ House leader since she won the post 2002.
Ryan laid out the problem: “Over the last 18 years, Democrats have only been in the majority of the House of Representatives for two terms and last week’s election results set us back even further,” he said. “We have lost over 60 seats since 2010. We have the fewest Democrats in state and federal offices since Reconstruction. At this time of fear and disillusionment, we owe it to our constituencies to listen and bring a new voice into leadership”
Pelosi told a news conference before Ryan’s announcement that she had the support of two-thirds of her caucus, and insisted that the Democrats’ problem is communication, not its views.
Also reportedly weighing a challenge is Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., 54, the fifth-ranking Democratic leaders. Leadership elections that were supposed to be held this week were postponed until Nov. 30, after Congress returns from a Thanksgiving recess.
Both Crowley and Ryan represent working-class districts. Democrats fared poorly with white working-class voters, losing key Midwestern states.
Democratic House members, meeting privately Thursday morning, reportedly had a vigorous discussion about how to proceed. Pelosi is seen as having the advantage in keeping her job.
She’s helped raise millions for Democratic House candidates, is an historic figure and led the fight for the Affordable Care Act and other signature Democratic initiatives.
But younger members are growing restless. Pelosi is 76. The second-ranking Democrat, Steny Hoyer of Maryland, is 77, and the third-ranking Democrat, Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, is 76.
Pelosi was both defensive and confident during her news conference. Asked if Democrats were losing the fight for working-class voters, she said she takes “great pride” in representing San Francisco. The working-class constituency, she said, helped Democrats win control of the House in 2006.
They didn’t think we were communicating.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi on one reason Democrats weren’t stronger in last week’s elections
She cited history, noting that the president’s party historically loses seats in mid-term elections. She claimed she had two-thirds of the House Democratic caucus supporting her.
“I don’t see anything about what is being suggested now as anything but the friendship of all of us. We are family,” Pelosi said.
She was confident Democrats can rise again. “They have the opportunity to make this contrast between President Trump and what they stand for,” Pelosi said.
Democrats faltered in this year’s campaign, she said, because “the problem was more with the communication than it was with our policy.”
Also hurting the party was the announcement Oct. 28 by FBI Director James Comey that he would look into additional information about Clinton’s emails.
And, Pelosi said, “I think the American people deserve an investigation into how a foreign government had an impact on our election. And how Rudy Giuliani had access to that information when he did. I think the Comey letter was dispositive of the election.” Giuliani appeared to know in advance of Comey’s action. He has denied he had such knowledge.