By Bonnie K. Goodman
Current House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, (D -CA) staved off challenger Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), to remain the House Democratic Minority Leader for the 115th Congress. On Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016, House Democrats voted 134-63 in a closed-door meeting to keep Pelosi in as minority leader. The Nov. 15 elections were delayed at the closed-door meeting by request after the Nov. 8, election. Soon after Ryan, 43 announced his plans to challenge Pelosi, 76, but was unable to garner enough support to unseat her.
The Democratic caucus requested a delay in the elections of the Democratic House leadership posts at their Nov. 15 meeting. They were dissatisfied with Pelosi’s leadership and the direction of the party after their losses in the election. House Democrats picked up just six seats, lost the presidency and only picked up two Senate seats. Democrats wanted Pelosi to make changes in the leadership; she promises to every new session but never follows through. Democrats also needed time to reflect on the election and the message the American public sent the party.
Ryan announced his intention to challenge Pelosi on Nov. 17. Ryan argued the need for change after the Democrats crushing election defeat. He said the party needed a younger leadership and vision that would focus on the Democrats “economic message” and “geographic outreach.” Ryan told ABC News, “Donald Trump is the president, that is how bad we are out of touch, that the backbone of our party went and voted for Donald Trump, and I say that’s out fault. Clearly we have got to do something much different. We have to connect to these working-class voters and we have a broad coalition.” Ryan has been in the House representing first Ohio’s 13th district since he was elected in 2003.
The Ohio representative announced his candidacy with a letter to the Democratic caucus. Ryan wrote, “I have spent countless hours meeting and talking to Members of our Caucus, and the consensus is clear. What we are doing right now is not working. While having a position in Democratic Leadership has never been my life’s ambition, after this election I believe we all need to re-evaluate our roles within the Caucus, the Democratic Party, and our country. That is why I am announcing my run for Minority Leader of the Democratic Caucus and humbly request your support.” Only 11 House members publicly declared their support for Ryan.
At that point, Pelosi dismissed Ryan’s challenge telling the press, “I’ve regularly had some opponents. House Democrats must be unified, strategic, and unwavering.” Pelosi has been the Democratic House leader for 13 years, and during four of those years from 2007 to 2011, she was the first female Speaker of the House. Previously, Pelosi served as Democratic Whip. President Barack Obama essentially endorsed Pelosi, saying, “I cannot speak highly enough of Nancy Pelosi. She combines strong, progressive values with just extraordinary political skill.”
The following is the lineup this far for the new House Democratic leadership positions:
Minority (Democratic) Leadership:
Minority Leader: Nancy Pelosi
Minority Whip: Steny Hoyer
Assistant Democratic Leader: Jim Clyburn
Caucus Chairman: Joe Crowley
Caucus Vice-Chairman: Linda Sánchez
Campaign Committee Chairman: Ben Ray Luján