A growing number of Democratic candidates in this fall's elections are vowing not to support Nancy Pelosi as speaker should the party re-take the House, threatening her nearly 16-year grip on leadership in the chamber.
"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," Max Rose, a New York Democrat who is running for a seat on Staten Island, told Politico.
Pennsylvania Rep. Conor Lamb won under the anti-Pelosi banner in his special election in March — and at least 20 challengers have come out against the 78-year-old Democrat, who has represented California since 1987.
Most of those seats are coveted by party officials, according to Politico.
Pelosi was speaker when the Democrats lost the House in the first tea party wave in 2010.
"Whether you are someone who has been here a long time, a short time or a candidate running for office for the first time, people are being more vocal about how they feel about leadership of the party," New York Rep. Kathleen Rice, one of Pelosi’s most vocal critics, told Politico.
For her part, Pelosi has declared that she will seek the speakership if the Democrats re-take the House.
"We will win," she told The Boston Globe in May. "I will run for speaker.
"I feel confident about it. And my members do, too," she said.
Pelosi could still win, however, by gaining the necessary 218 votes on the floor — though she could face a large freshman bloc who have vowed to oppose her or to call for new leadership, according to the report.
Her most-likely successors, Minority Whip and longtime deputy Steny Hoyer of Maryland and Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley of New York, have said they would not seek the speakership.
"I think we’re going to win the majority and that’s what we’re focused on," Hoyer told Politico. "We’ll worry about the rest of it after the election."
But Republicans are playing on Pelosi's weaknesses and are tying candidates to the minority leader, Democratic pollsters said.
"With very few exceptions, the biggest hurdle, the biggest vulnerability for Democratic candidates is Nancy Pelosi, and the strongest card the Republicans can play is attaching a candidate to Pelosi," one pollster told Politico.
"Most of this is about mitigating and diluting the effectiveness of that attack."
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