House Democrats reelected Nancy Pelosi as minority leader on Tuesday. The voice vote sounded unanimous, according to people who were in the caucus room when it happened.
But that doesn’t mean everybody there was happy about Representative Pelosi winning another two-year leadership term. Losing breeds backbiting, in politics as in sports, and the intramural grumbling about House Democrats’ mid-term beat-down is getting louder, if blind quotes in news reports are any guide.
Democratic candidates should have focused more on the economic concerns of middle-class voters. Party leaders should have better identified, and then helped, members at risk. Democratic members should not have followed President Obama’s lead so closely on major policy issues. And so forth and so on.
Even Pelosi supporters said it was time for House Democrats as a whole to take a good, hard look at where they’re headed.
“We need a full-blown discussion of who we are, where we’re going, what are our priorities. If everything is a priority, nothing is a priority,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell of New Jersey, according to the Associated Press. “It’s all of our faults, not just the leadership.”
Politico’s John Bresnahan and Lauren French have a good rundown today of the dissatisfaction in the Democratic ranks, including some rare on-the-record criticism. Among other things, it points out that the Congressional Black Caucus is upset that the party didn’t provide more money and support to Rep. Steven Horsford of Nevada, the first African-American elected from the Silver State. Representative Horsford lost in November despite representing a majority Democratic district.
“We believe that certainly our leadership worked hard, but there obviously was something lacking because we lost so many seats. I want to see members who have a better handle on the caucus brought in, whether they be young or old,” said Rep. Marcia Fudge, Congressional Black Caucus chair, according to Politico.
Some in the party are also upset the Pelosi is not allowing Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois to cast a proxy vote in this week’s leadership election.
Representative Duckworth is a double amputee and Iraq War veteran who cannot travel at the moment, due to pregnancy. Pelosi has denied her the ability to have someone else vote according to her wishes, saying that caucus rules have long banned proxy voting, and it would be hard to hold that line after making an exception.
According to Roll Call, some members are “privately seething” that blocking Duckworth’s vote is really about “stacking the deck” in favor of Pelosi’s candidate for ranking member on the Energy and Commerce Committee, fellow Californian Rep. Anna Eshoo. Representative Eshoo is running against Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey in a contested bid for the post.
Plus, “many members are concerned about the optics of not allowing Duckworth a proxy vote when Democrats are supposed to be the party that fights for women,” writes Roll Call’s Emma Dumain.
Given all that, there was little chance any uprising against Pelosi would ever have made headway. She’s beloved by many fellow liberals and is a tireless networker and fund-raiser.
“For all the anti-Pelosi talk, the D caucus will never vote her out, she raises too much money & they can’t coalesce around oppo candidate,” tweeted Luke Russert of NBC News on Tuesday.