Last night I wrote up my take on whether Nancy Pelosi should be the next Speaker of the House under the incoming Democratic majority. Short answer: Yes. For the longer answer, click here. But the day so far as even more convinced me of a point that was partly implicit in what I wrote last night: that any question about Pelosi is quickly resolved when you look at the folks leading the charge to replace her.
Here’s how I’m looking at this. You have a dozen or more opponents of Pelosi, dissidents going back years, who make up the bulk of the people on that list of definite no votes. Then you have a number of incoming members who campaigned on independence from Pelosi and in many cases made pledges – of varying degrees of absoluteness – that they would not vote for her for Speaker. Those folks feel legitimately backed into a corner over this. They have to get elected again in two years in what are by definition competitive swing districts. As one of my colleagues put it to me a short time ago, the folks in the former category are leveraging the resistance of the people in the latter category to take Pelosi down.
The big issue to me is that the folks in both groups, but particularly in the first, have no real or clear plan for what happens after Pelosi. There’s no credible candidate among them. Democrats need a Speaker who can and will hit the ground running. I don’t see another member who can do that, not as the powerful Speaker the Democrats need to stand up against the President. Pelosi’s opponents do not have a good answer to that question. I’m not sure they’ve given it much thought frankly. A weak Speaker, which seems like the inevitable outcome of this gambit, is not a good outcome.