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A letter from 16 House Democrats opposing Nancy Pelosi is out, but she still has no challenger

Marcia Fudge, the Ohio Congress member who considered challenging Pelosi, has dropped her bid.

Nancy Pelosi Holds Weekly Press Conference At U.S. Capitol
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi approaches the podium for her weekly news conference on November 15.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Sixteen House Democrats have signed their names to a letter released Monday opposing House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in her bid to become the next speaker of the House.

The letter from Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY) and 15 other Democratic members was released on Monday, after a week of intense speculation about whether it would come out.

“We promised to change the status quo and we intend to deliver on that promise,” the group wrote. “Therefore, we are committed to voting for new leadership in both our Caucus meeting and on the House floor.”

The 16 representatives and representatives-elect who signed the letter include:

  • Anthony Brindisi (D-NY)
  • Jim Cooper (D-TN)
  • Joe Cunningham (D-SC)
  • Bill Foster (D-IL)
  • Brian Higgins (D-NY)
  • Stephen Lynch (D-MA)
  • Seth Moulton (D-MA)
  • Ed Perlmutter (D-CO)
  • Kathleen Rice (D-NY)
  • Max Rose (D-NY)
  • Tim Ryan (D-OH)
  • Linda Sanchez (D-CA)
  • Kurt Schrader (D-OR)
  • Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ)
  • Ben McAdams (D-UT)

Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge is one name that was conspicuously absent from the letter; last week, Fudge publicly floated the idea of challenging Pelosi. But she withdrew her potential bid Tuesday night, throwing her support behind Pelosi after the Democratic leader named Fudge the chair of the newly reinstated House Administration Subcommittee on Elections.

Three other members/members-elect not on the letter have said they will vote against Pelosi in the all-important January 3 floor vote for speaker: Reps. Conor Lamb (PA), and Reps.-elect Jason Crow (CO) and Abigail Spanberger (VA).

“Nothing’s changed,” Crow told Vox last week. “I know that’s a shock to a lot of people in DC that nothing’s changed. My position is pretty clear on it; I’m going to keep my promise.”

The object of the letter is to demonstrate that Pelosi doesn’t have enough votes to get to 218, the number she needs to be speaker. If you are counting by just the number of signatures on the letter, Pelosi can afford to lose 16 votes.

The number of signatures on the letter is lower than some members had been hinting at last week; in scrums with reporters, Ryan and Rice estimated the number of Democratic members opposing Pelosi would grow.

And after a week of uncertainty, Pelosi’s allies are taking the number of signatures on the letter holding steady, and even shrinking by one, as a sign that things could be looking up for her.

“If your strategy relies upon Nancy Pelosi giving up, you will lose every single time,” a senior Democratic aide said. “Ninety-four percent of the caucus didn’t sign this letter.”

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