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Decision to Replace Nancy Pelosi Made In September Following ‘Secret’ Meeting: Report

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


A report published on Friday laid out details of a behind-the-scenes “secret” meeting aimed at determining who would replace House Speaker Nancy Pelosi atop the Democratic Party leadership in the House.

Politico reported that the battle to succeed her actually began Sept. 1 during a “secret” meeting between Reps. Hakeem Jeffries of New York and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina.

“Jeffries, the fifth-ranking House Democrat who aspires to be the first-ranking House Democrat in the next Congress, was picking up heightened chatter from colleagues about California Rep. Adam Schiff’s outreach expressing his own interest in the top caucus job,” the report noted.

“The 52-year-old Jeffries was concerned enough that he offered to fly to South Carolina to seek the counsel of the 82-year-old Clyburn. The younger lawmaker wanted to gently make sure his elder in the Congressional Black Caucus knew of Schiff’s quiet campaign — and to even more gently warn Clyburn about the risk of splitting votes between them and opening a path for the ambitious Californian,” Politico noted further, adding that Jeffries had no cause for concern.

“There’s nothing I would ever do to impede the progress of our up-and-coming young Democrats, and I see him as an up-and-coming young Democrat,” Clyburn told Politico regarding Jeffries. “He knows that, I didn’t have to tell him that — but I did.”

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When queried about whether he would serve in a sort of advisory role in leadership, Clyburn responded that he is is “willing to do anything the caucus thinks is to their benefit,” adding that the New York Democrat has “referred to me as a mentor.”

In September, CNN published a report noting that Pelosi had yet to say whether she wanted to remain at the head of her party following the midterms, adding ominously that Democrats may make that decision for her.

“In interviews with more than two dozen House Democrats, a consensus is emerging: If they lose the majority, there would be overwhelming pressure for Pelosi to go, a prospect that Democratic sources say the powerful House speaker is keenly aware of,” the outlet reported.

“I support Pelosi,” said Rep. Henry Cuellar, a conservative Texas Democrat who is indebted to Pelosi for helping him win his primary. “I’ll support her for whatever position.”

“I think if we win the House, she’ll deserve it – it’s as simple as that,” added Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, Texas Democrat.

However, if Democrats lose the majority, “The dynamics change,” Gonzalez said. “I think it changes the game.”

Other Democrats, however, were far more blunt.

“It’s time for generational diversity of our leadership ranks – regardless of the outcome of the election,” noted Rep. Dean Phillips, a Minnesota Democrat who nonetheless supported Pelosi for her position, calling her “one of the most extraordinary speakers in history.”

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“That doesn’t change my perspective that it’s time for a new generation,” Phillips added, saying that’s the prevailing mindset throughout the party.

“She has to go,” one senior Democrat said. “No way she can stay,” added another long-time House Democrat. “She doesn’t have the votes,” another veteran Democrat told CNN, naming some vulnerable rank-and-file members who have pledged not to support her again for leadership.

“I certainly have long thought it’s time for new leadership,” Rep. Mikie Sherrill, a Democrat from a New Jersey swing district, told CNN. He did not support her for Speaker during last year’s election.

“She’s done an incredible job, but we really do need to grow new leaders. When you have the top three people in our caucus in their 80s. … There does need to be a new generation coming up and starting to lead. And that’s something that I think the Democratic Party shouldn’t be afraid of,” he added.

“I think if we’re in a minority then I think that the desire for change will be broader, potentially within the party. But I think that desire exists,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told CNN. “We saw and heard that desire in the last two terms that Democrats were the majority, so it really is just a question of, not if people want that, but how many?”

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