Pelosi challenge still possible on House floor

Ryan vows to oppose her; California Democrat still needs 15 more votes to win Speaker slot.

The new House Democratic majority picked House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as their speaker Wednesday, but what’s unknown is whether a revolt led by Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles will re-emerge when the full House votes on Pelosi’s speakership on Jan. 3.

While Pelosi won overwhelmingly, with 203 Democrats backing her and 32 opposing her, her fight is not yet over. She will need 218 votes on the House floor on Jan. 3 to be elected Speaker, and no Republicans are expected to back her.

Even as Ryan vowed to vote against Pelosi, Rep. Joyce Beatty, D–Jefferson Township, cemented her status as a key backer of the California Democrat. Beatty, one of the first to publicly support Pelosi, was one of nine House Democrats to give speeches backing Pelosi for Speaker in a closed–door, hours–long meeting of House Democrats that also included votes on other leadership positions.

“I’m a no vote,” Ryan said hours before Democrats were to vote on Speaker. “We need new leadership.”

By contrast, Beatty stood before the caucus and lauded Pelosi’s “tenacity” and “strength,” and talked about her ability to stand up to Trump if needed.

“I want people to understand that she is very reflective of America,” she said. “She’s strong, she’s tenacious, she’s done what other males and females have not been able to do. This is her time. She’s the best person to lead us into this transition.”

Beatty lauded Pelosi’s political skill in flipping would-be opponents into supporters and negotiating with the members of her caucus. She said she has been in talks with Pelosi about the possibility of taking on a leadership position in the new Congress, but did not specify which position she sought. Separately, the Congressional Black Caucus Wednesday picked Beatty to be a vice–chair in the new Congress.

Beatty joined Rep. Joe Kennedy, D-Mass., who gave the nominating speech, as well as Rep. John Lewis of Georgia and Rep. Adam Schiff of California in giving speeches on Pelosi’s behalf.

Among the four Ohio House Democrats, Pelosi and Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D–Toledo, announced Pelosi nearly from the start, while Ryan, who challenged Pelosi for minority leader in 2016, had been among the leaders of an anti-Pelosi faction. He was among 16 Democrats to sign a letter last week vowing not to back her for Speaker.

Rep. Marcia Fudge, D–Cleveland, briefly toyed with the idea of challenging Pelosi herself but struck a deal with Pelosi that will allow Fudge to lead a new House subcommittee devoted to voting rights – an issue dear to Fudge’s heart.

Some Democrats had won their elections in part by vowing not to back Pelosi, arguing the Democratic Party needs new leadership in order to gain and keep the House majority. In Ohio, Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor, who fought a close race against Rep. Troy Balderson but lost, vowed not to back Pelosi for speaker if elected.

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