House Democrats have re-elected Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca) as their leader on Wednesday morning, turning back dissension within their ranks looking for a change.
The California lawmaker, who has led the party since 2002, had a challenger in Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH). Pelosi came out the victor of the traditional secret ballot which was done in a closed session.
Ryan’s bid was a longshot which he had launched just two weeks ago after Democrats took a stunning beating on Election Day, not only failing to win the White House but also failing to win majority in either chamber of Congress.
Outside of the closed door session on Wednesday, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) spoke favorably of Ryan’s challenge saying that it provided healthy competition. “I think it’s aired some issues that are, have needed to be aired,” the Congressman said.
Connolly revealed which way he voted, “I, at the end of the day, believe we need stable leadership,” he said. With the impending Trump administration, Democrats need to be united and we need a shrewd strategist, and I think that’s Nancy Pelosi.”
While others agree that a shrewd strategist and steady leadership is needed, they do not agree that Pelosi is that person looking back at some of the heavy losses that Democrats have taken under her leadership, most notably losing a historic 63 seats in the 2010 election. Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA), one of Ryan’s supporters, said that the Democratic Party has been in a “steady decline” for years and it’s time to try something different.
Adding that the party has to “widen” its base “to include working people,” he said that he felt that Ryan would be better suited to accomplish that task, noting that the current leadership has swung to the far left. “We talk about free range chickens more than we talk about working people,” he said.
For her part, Pelosi wrote a letter to her colleagues on Friday, in part saying, “As we continue to discuss how we communicate the values of liberty, justice and dignity for all Americans, many members have come forward eager to participate.” She added, “I am energized by the enthusiasm of members and our outside allies who see the opportunities that lie ahead and the commitment we have to address the needs of America’s working families.”
On Tuesday, Ryan pointed to the fact that there are fewer Democrats in the House now than at any time since 1929. “We’ve really got to ask ourselves: What are we going to tell the American people? That what happened on [Election Day] and what we’ve not been able to do since 2010 is ok; we’re going to keep going down the same path, or will we have a new messenger, a new message, a new brand and a new Democratic Party?” Ryan said, speaking to CNN.
Democrats were also choosing other leaders during the closed-door session that was expected to take several hours.