Nancy Pelosi is putting the speculation to rest: If Democrats win the House in 2018, she intends to lead them.
Pelosi announced her intention to run for House speaker if Democrats regain power during a Boston Globe editorial board meeting on Tuesday. The announcement comes amid rumblings about her future — as well as the ambition of House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley of New York to succeed her.
“We will win. I will run for speaker. I feel confident about it. And my members do, too,” Pelosi said during the editorial board meeting.
She nodded to the fact that the members reportedly angling to replace her — not to mention those in leadership roles in the House and Senate — are white men.
“It’s important that it not be five white guys at the table, no offense,” Pelosi said, speaking of the top House and Senate leadership posts and President Trump. “I have no intention of walking away from that table.”
Pelosi was in town for a fundraiser hosted by Massachusetts Rep. Katherine Clark. The House minority leader, a fundraising juggernaut, has been raising boatloads of campaign cash for her members. She’s raised $16.1 million in the first quarter of the year alone, and $66.7 million for the entire cycle, about $1 million more than she did in 2016.
She’s an important piece of the fundraising equation for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which has also been posting large fundraising numbers amid the 2018 blue wave hype; the organization raised $14.3 million in March alone (over $4 million more than the National Republican Congressional Committee) and has raised $140 million so far this cycle, 60 percent of which came from grassroots donations, according to a press release.
Pelosi’s announcement answers one question and raises others
Over the past few months, there’s been a lot of speculation about whether Pelosi would run for House speaker again. There’s little disagreement that she’s been one of the most effective speakers when the Democrats were in power; she was a crucial player in shepherding the Affordable Care Act through Congress, enacting Dodd-Frank regulations, and passing fiscal stimulus in response to the 2008 recession.
But Pelosi has been in power for a long time (she was first elected speaker in 2007), and it’s well known that some younger Democratic House members are itching for new leadership.
“She’s getting on, she’s 78,” said congressional historian Thomas Mann. “Obviously she’s going to be leaving sometime in the near future.”
There’s dissatisfaction with the way Pelosi runs things in the caucus, especially the length of time it takes for members to get onto certain committees. There’s also the fact that despite Pelosi’s fundraising numbers, many Democrats feel she is a drag of on their ability to take back the House this year because she’s such a target for national Republicans.
In the absence of a Democratic president, Pelosi has become the de facto target for Republicans, who are trying to tie Democratic candidates across the country to her agenda. And it’s having ripple effects in her own party. Numerous House candidates in 2018 are saying they want new leadership if they take office; newly sworn-in Pennsylvania Rep. Conor Lamb even ran an ad distancing himself from Pelosi as he campaigned in a conservative special election.
Crowley, the 56-year-old chair of the House Democratic Caucus, has reportedly been eyeing the speakership but has said he won’t challenge Pelosi if she runs again. And Pelosi has designated no obvious successors — especially as she’s made it clear she has no intention of leaving just yet.
“She wants to choose when she leaves, not be pushed out,” Mann said. “And given her success in her job, one can fully understand.”