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More than 40 Democratic House candidates want Nancy Pelosi to step aside after 2018

Pelosi is raising tens of millions for Democratic candidates. A growing number say they won’t support her bid for speaker.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
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The list of Democrats who say they won’t support Nancy Pelosi for speaker should their party retake the House in 2018 has grown to 42.

Pelosi has said she will run for speaker if Democrats take back the House in the fall. It won’t be clear until after the election how many votes she’d need to win back the gavel, when the size of the new caucus is settled. Still, she’d likely face a narrow path to victory given the defections, or she’d need newly elected members to go back on a key campaign promise on their first vote in office.

Vox has counted 42 candidates who have publicly said they will not support Pelosi. That list has almost doubled since July, when the total number of candidates hovered around 24. Of the newly updated number, 24 candidates are on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Red to Blue list, the list of Republican-held districts Democrats consider competitive. Red to Blue is the closest the DCCC comes to endorsing a candidate; those candidates get extra resources to help in their races.

NBC News recently published a list of more than 50 Democrats who said they will not support Pelosi’s bid for speaker, a tally that included nine sitting members of Congress. Some of those members are watching the list of Democratic House hopefuls grow with a watchful eye, hoping this is the year they can oust Pelosi.

“Those are the ones that are going to give us the majority,” a Democratic lawmaker told Vox earlier this year.

Pelosi faced a leadership challenge from Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) in 2016. Although she won, 63 House Democrats voted for Ryan, a third of the caucus. With Dems still grumbling about how the caucus is run and the impending exit of House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (widely considered a Pelosi successor), there are plenty of whispers about who could be next — whispers that Pelosi’s team is shrugging off.

“Leader Pelosi enjoys the overwhelming support of House Democrats, and that will continue into the majority she’s so focused on winning,” said Pelosi spokesperson Drew Hammill in a statement to Vox.

Publicly distancing oneself from Pelosi (while continuing to accept money she’s fundraised) is proving to be a politically prudent — and winning — strategy for candidates. It may have helped propel Rep. Conor Lamb to a surprise victory earlier this year in a deeply red Pennsylvania district that Democrats had believed was out of reach.

Red to Blue candidates are all trying to win in moderate or red-leaning districts, so it may not be surprising that more are leaning into this tactic. But it’s notable that the number has grown so much. It’s true that some are veiling their opposition in calls for “new leadership in both parties,” but with Pelosi as the best-known Democrat currently in leadership, it’s hard to miss whom they’re talking about.

At least publicly, Pelosi does not seem to be worried. She’s made it clear she wants Democrats to win at any cost, even if that means they’re openly campaigning against her. Pelosi, a prolific fundraiser, has already raised nearly $70 million this election cycle, breaking her own previous record.

Here are the Red to Blue list candidates who have said they won’t support Pelosi.

Clarke Tucker, Arkansas’s Second Congressional District

“I’ve said from day one that I won’t vote for Nancy Pelosi” —campaign ad

Gil Cisneros, California’s 39th Congressional District

“No. While I respect Representative Pelosi’s years of advocacy on behalf of California and the Democratic party, new leadership is needed.” —statement to Politico

Jason Crow, Colorado’s Sixth Congressional District

“I won’t be supporting Nancy Pelosi. I want new leadership to set up and move this country forward.” —interview with the Denver Post

Nancy Soderberg, Florida’s Sixth Congressional District

“No, I believe you need new leadership in Congress if you’re going to change the dysfunction in Washington.” —candidate forum with the Daytona Beach News-Journal

Brendan Kelly, Illinois’s 12th Congressional District

“I think we need new leadership in both parties and that’s just how I feel.” —interview with the Southern Illinoisan

Mell Hall, Indiana’s Second Congressional District

“I do not currently support and will not support Nancy Pelosi for leadership in the next Congress. … Washington is broken – and career politicians in both parties are to blame.” —campaign statement to the Hill

Liz Watson, Indiana’s Ninth Congressional District

“I won’t vote for Nancy Pelosi because we need new leadership in Washington.” — statement to WTTV CBS 4

Paul Davis, Kansas’s Second Congressional District

“This is a broken Congress right now, and I think the leaders of both political parties bear responsibility for that. And I think that we need new leadership in both political parties.” — interview with USA Today

Jared Golden, Maine’s Second Congressional District

Golden “has no intention of voting for Nancy Pelosi. None at all.” —at a Maine voter forum, reported by the Lewiston Sun-Journal

Elissa Slotkin, Michigan’s Eighth Congressional District

“I always believe in being respectful to leaders, particularly women who have broken [glass] ceilings. But I think it’s clear that on both sides of the aisle, people are seeking new leadership, and I’m going to be looking for someone who best represents my district and what we care about here. And I believe that’s a new generation of leaders.” —interview with the Washington Post

Haley Stevens, Michigan’s 11th Congressional District

Stevens said she wouldn’t vote for Pelosi for speaker at a candidate forum earlier this year. —Detroit News

Dan McCready, North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District

“I’ve said since day one that I wouldn’t vote for Nancy Pelosi as speaker. I think we need a whole new generation of people in D.C. That’s part of why I’m running; we need some new blood.” —interview with the Washington Post

Kathy Manning, North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District

“I cannot vote for more of the same, and I cannot support Nancy Pelosi or Paul Ryan to lead Congress. We need fresh faces and bold ideas leading both parties.” —Medium post

Kara Eastman, Nebraska’s Second Congressional District

“I believe it’s time to bring fresh perspectives to Washington. Democrats must have term limits like the Republicans have for their Congressional leaders. I would support a new House leader in 2019!” —Facebook post

Jeff Van Drew, New Jersey’s Second Congressional District

“I would not say that I would support her. It would be something that I think we need to look at, and it very well could be that we look at new Democratic leadership and voices.” —statement to Politico

Andy Kim, New Jersey’s Third Congressional District

“As I’m now working to help my community here in New Jersey, it’s time we have new leadership on both sides of the aisle in Washington to get the job done.” —interview with the New Jersey Globe

Mikie Sherrill, New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District

“I’m glad to see that Paul Ryan decided not to run for reelection, but in the Democratic party, we have to look at ourselves as well. I won’t be supporting Nancy Pelosi for leadership either, because we know that the next 50 years aren’t going to look like the last 50 years, and we need a new generation of leaders who are going to bring forward fresh ideas as to how we move this country forward.” —interview with the New Jersey Globe

Max Rose, New York’s 11th Congressional District

“Throughout my campaign, I have spoken about how people in my district have lost trust in our political process and in both parties. If the Democratic Party is going to earn back the trust of the American people then we need to show them that we are serious about changing our politics — and that means we need a change in leadership.” —statement to Politico

Anthony Brindisi, New York’s 22nd Congressional District

“It’s something that I decided early on by talking to voters in the district. I believe it’s time for new leadership on both sides of the aisle.“ —interview with the Post Standard/

Aftab Pureval, Ohio’s First Congressional District

“Will I support Nancy Pelosi for Speaker? The answer is ‘no.’ I’m running for Congress because I genuinely believe we need a new generation of leadership. Washington is broken. It’s toxic, and it’s on both sides.” —interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer

Ken Harbaugh, Ohio’s Seventh Congressional District

“I would not support her. Unless we right the ship and realize that politics as usual is part of the problem, we’re going to keep losing.” —interview with the Wall Street Journal

Joe Cunningham, South Carolina’s First Congressional District

“The Democratic Party needs new leadership now. If elected, I will not vote for Nancy Pelosi for speaker. Time to move forward and win again.” —statement on Twitter

Ben McAdams, Utah’s Fourth Congressional District

“It’s time for new leadership. I’d be looking at who’s running and what they bring to the table.” —interview with the Salt Lake Tribune

Abigail Spanberger, Virginia’s Seventh Congressional District

“We need new leadership in Washington, on both sides of the aisle, and at every level, from first-term members to Congressional leadership, and for this reason, under no circumstances, would I vote for Nancy Pelosi to again be Speaker of the House.” —statement to NBC News

Dan Kohl, Wisconsin’s Sixth Congressional District

“If I’m elected to Congress, I would not vote for Nancy Pelosi as leader of the Democrats.” —interview with Fox 6

Richard Ojeda, West Virginia’s Third Congressional District

“I’m not supporting Nancy Pelosi. I think that Nancy is bad for our party; I think we need some working-class Democrats that actually know what it’s like for the average citizen out there.” —interview with Vox

And here’s a list of the candidates not on the Red to Blue list who have also publicly opposed Pelosi’s bid for speaker.

Andrew Janz, California’s 22nd Congressional District

“I’m not supporting Nancy Pelosi.” —NBC News interview

Ammar Campa-Najjar, California’s 50th Congressional District

“Honestly, no. I think we need new leadership.” —in response to question of whether he’d vote for Pelosi from MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt

JD Scholten, Iowa’s Fourth Congressional District

“Democrats hate trickle-down economics; they should hate trickle-down politics.” Scholten added he would not support Pelosi in leadership. —interview with Slate

James Thompson, Kansas’s Fourth Congressional District

“I do not support Nancy Pelosi returning as leader.” —statement on Twitter

Rashida Tlaib, Michigan’s 13th Congressional District

“No, probably not. … Supporting big banks and supporting efforts that I don’t think put the people first is troubling.” —interview with CNN

Kathleen Williams, Montana’s at-large congressional district

“Paul Ryan is retiring, so Republicans will have a new leader. Democrats also need a fresh start. That’s why I won’t be voting for Nancy Pelosi for leader. Instead, I’ll push to find a new leadership team that ensures Congress works for all of us.” —campaign ad

Josh Welle, New Jersey’s Fourth Congressional District

“Speaker Pelosi has been a strong public servant. … But, it’s clear that Congress is not working for everyday people, and now is the time for new leadership in Washington with fresh ideas on moving our country forward and united.” —interview with the New Jersey Globe

Nate McMurry, New York’s 27th Congressional District

“I think it’s time to move on. If this blue wave really does happen, it’s a request to go a different way, a mandate to do things differently.” —interview with the Buffalo News

Mac Schneider, North Dakota’s at-large congressional district

“I will not be voting for Ms. Pelosi. I think we need a change, and more than that, I think we need someone who can deliver an economic message — someone who can come out to North Dakota and talk to farmers and ranchers and explain why Democratic policies are better for their pocketbooks.” —interview with Grand Forks Herald

Jill Schiller, Ohio’s Second Congressional District

“I plan to vote for a new generation of leaders. … I’ve heard one consistent theme on the campaign trail: we need change in Washington, and I want to be a part of that change.” —statement to NBC News

Janet Garrett, Ohio’s Fourth Congressional District

“I look at the leadership — I think we should vote them all out. Nancy Pelosi — vote ’em all out.” —interview with Vox’s Tara Golshan

Theresa Gasper, Ohio’s 10th Congressional District

“Although this discussion is premature, I would support new leadership in the House.” —statement to the Dayton Daily News

Danny O’Connor, Ohio’s 12th Congressional District

“We need new leadership on the Democratic side of things too.” —campaign ad

Jess King, Pennsylvania’s 11th Congressional District

“Congress already has too many career politicians in leadership, and too often leaders in both parties fail to stand up to wealthy special interests. That’s why I would vote for new leadership, not Nancy Pelosi. We need to make Washington D.C work for all of us, instead of just working for the political establishment.” —statement to NBC News

Tim Bjorkman, South Dakota’s at-large congressional district

“My first pledge is one I have spoken of since the day I announced my candidacy … that as South Dakota’s lone Congressman, I will not support Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House or any other leadership position.” —campaign statement

Joseph Kopser, Texas’s 21st Congressional District

“Both parties need a new generation of leaders who will put country ahead of party. I’m not supporting Nancy Pelosi as leader in any vote because I believe there are people who can better take the Democratic Party and our country forward.” —statement to NBC News

This list will be updated.

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