Nov 14, 2018, 1:27 PM ET

'Never Nancy': Democrats ramp up efforts to sideline Pelosi, without offering an alternative

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A band of House Democrats determined to oppose House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's speaker bid are planning to release a signed letter as soon as this week indicating that they have gathered enough support to deny her the 218 votes needed to win the gavel on the House floor in January, a move they say would complicate her path to a second term as speaker and force renewed discussion about her stepping aside.

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"This is a simple letter saying we want new leadership, which is what a vast majority of Democrats and the American people want," Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., a member of the group, told reporters Tuesday.

Pelosi, who has said she's "100 percent confident" that she will be the next House speaker, has been working since last week on her bid, meeting and talking with new members and incumbent Democrats, to shore up support.

PHOTO: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks during a town hall-style meeting, Feb. 1, 2018, at the Cambridge Public Library, in Cambridge, Mass.Steven Senne/AP
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks during a town hall-style meeting, Feb. 1, 2018, at the Cambridge Public Library, in Cambridge, Mass.

Prominent Democrats outside of Washington D.C. – from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, to former Sen. John Kerry and former Vice President Al Gore – have been making calls on her behalf, and influential House Democrats and activists have provided a steady drumbeat of public endorsements.

But Pelosi's critics argue that she has an increasingly apparent math problem. While she's expected to lock up the caucus speaker vote with a majority of members on Nov. 28, they're hoping to publicly release their letter before that vote to hammer their point home.

"It's time for a change," Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Texas, who is opposed to Pelosi, told ABC News. "It's time for new blood."

ABC News has identified at least 14 sitting Democrats and incoming members who have vowed to oppose Pelosi on the House floor.

Sources involved in the effort say that number has grown to at least 20 members, with many more incoming Democrats undecided. Pelosi can only afford to lose six votes – a number that could grow to 14 if Democrats win the eight House races yet to be called.

"The whole point of the letter is to accelerate this process so that it doesn’t spill out onto the floor. She’s the one that is driving this to a floor vote. We want to make it clear before it comes to that that she should step aside," Moulton said.

Pelosi's allies say the California Democrat – a veteran of countless leadership battles and whipping efforts – is working methodically to line up the votes. Her team is listening to incoming members and sitting Democrats about their priorities and desired changes to rules governing the House floor, and believe there is still a path for her to reach 218 – or a majority of House members present and voting – on the House floor.

"I think she'll navigate it," Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., a rising star in the party who is running for a lower-level post, said Tuesday. "She's a smart woman."

In this Oct. 17, 2012 file photo, U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., speaks in Rockford, Ill. AP
In this Oct. 17, 2012 file photo, U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., speaks in Rockford, Ill.

One option her allies are exploring is tinkering with the threshold she needs to clinch the gavel: Pelosi can win on the floor with less than 218 votes if she can convince her critics not to vote, or vote "present," instead of for her or another candidate. They are also making the case to incoming members that voting against her in caucus but for her on the floor (in support of the caucus recommendation) will provide them with sufficient cover for their re-election races.

PHOTO: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi speaks during the Polk County Democrats Spring Dinner, May 6, 2018, in Des Moines, Iowa.Charlie Neibergall/AP
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi speaks during the Polk County Democrats Spring Dinner, May 6, 2018, in Des Moines, Iowa.

Pelosi's allies have also been quick to criticize the group vowing to block her as working to derail the will of the majority of House Democrats, and have ridiculed the group for not being able to find a candidate to challenge her for speaker head-on.

"If they’re foolish enough to sign their names to a letter when they don't have to, when they don’t know whether Pelosi is going to win or lose, and when they don’t even have a candidate to oppose her, then it doesn’t bode well for their leadership if they succeed," a Pelosi confidant told ABC News.

But Pelosi's critics say they don't need a candidate of their own to challenge her.

"There’s a very practical political reason why no one has come out. They don’t want to alienate Pelosi supporters. So it only makes sense from a political perspective that a new candidate steps up after it’s clear that she doesn’t have the votes," Moulton, who said he is not seeking to replace Pelosi, told reporters Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Pelosi's outreach continues. She's mixed and mingled with new members during their orientation in Washington, and has plans to meet with leaders of the Progressive Caucus and members of the Congressional Black Caucus late this week.

On Wednesday, the Democratic caucus will meet for the first time as a group since the Election Day victory, huddling in their meeting room in the basement of the Capitol with new members and tentative plans to discuss some of rule changes sought by Pelosi's critics.

News - 'Never Nancy': Democrats ramp up efforts to sideline Pelosi, without offering an alternative

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  • ctla567

    Those Mickey Mouse members could vote for Mickey Mouse as their new leader. Before even a single thing is completed they are already fighting for positions. Sad for Dem but Trump loves it.

  • David Horchak

    Is it any wonder why all this came out after the election? She is more decisive than Trump. Democrats won based on saying new blood. My guess she gets the post and in two years Trump reelected and we see a GOP wave. Because Democrats lied again.

  • Realpshep

    A change is long overdue

  • John Jarecki

    Barbara Lee, there is her challenger, next?

  • Alpha Control

    Has anyone tried a bucket of water yet? That's how they got rid of the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of OZ. You never know it might just work. I will donate a super soaker to the cause.....

  • Gun Toting Liberal

    Don't like her? Run against her or sit down! Hope reps in this group never want a comittee chair!

  • Holmes

    I will never forget when McCain and Obama were debating, she was making sure her nails were manicured. Smh...

  • Arthro

    Keeping Pelosi and Schumer is a losing strategy moving forward. If the Democrats want to regain power, they should nominate Tulsi Gabbard.

  • Ted Mittelstaedt

    As a Dem I don't want Pelosi in the position. I want someone younger. She can assist that person to come up to speed. But if she manages to win, then I can live with her in that position.

  • Anna Mac

    Push Eric Swalwell out in front. Let him work on attracting the persuadables with better messaging as speaker. Let Pelosi do her magic (if she has any) from behind the scenes.

  • FarmFamily

    Time for new leadership. It was on Pelosi's watch that Democrats lost the White House, the House and the Senate.

  • MrLightRail

    Far past time for her to step down, and let someone else take the reins. From what I understand, you don't have to be a house member to be Speaker. If so, nominate Beto O' Roark.

  • Toshiro Histugaya

    Okay.. Then who should replace her? Their opposition is literally half baked. They want her to step down, but no other direction beyond that?

  • molimelight

    My question is if not her, who? I don't see any other progressives that have come to the front of the pack and would have the skills to pass legislation. Remember, they have the lead in the house but it will still be hard to pass legislation if some Dems hold with the Republicans on fiscal matters and the Left wing stomps its feet and wants something more radical. Although they could think outside the box and select someone not currently serving. From what I understand of the rules, they could do that. But I think you need someone who is wise to the ways of the House, knows the ins and outs of passing legislation (Or running investigations). I just don't see anyone else who meets that criteria who is not old and somewhat wise. Personally, I think it would be a Hellish job and they'd have to pay me a huge bonus to do it.

  • BigBob1000

    Does anybody remember Pelosi's involvement the Friday before and the Monday of the stock market crash? Well I do because I trade on the stock market. That Friday she promised in front of the news media and the world that she would deliver the votes needed to pass the relief legislation so the big banks could barrow needed funds to avoid a stock market crash that would kill everybody's retirement plans. She then contacted her husband what her "real" plan was so he could short the market (make money going down). The following Monday around 10:00am while speaking in front of congress she killed the bill. The stock market immediately dropped off a cliff and everybody's retirement plans went in the dirt, companies went out of business, millions of Americans lost jobs and their homes. But here is the best part her husband which was told ahead of time and shorted the market made huge profits while everybody suffered. Don't believe me? Then why did 60 minutes on national television ran a story about her giving her husband insider trading information to make stock market trades on? This is the "real" Nancy Pelosi and what she thinks of all the Americans that suffered while she and her husband made millions of dollars.

  • George Columbo

    She's a smart woman. Who the hell says so? She is a complete dork.

  • Mr. Logical

    If the octogenarian Democrats maintain their icy grip on power for another couple years, they will deprive the party of a much-needed refresh of new faces and new rising stars.

  • encephalon

    The DNC servers under her leadership were hacked and exposed. They had no message, and tried to quiet younger progressive voices by any means necessary. Ya lost to an Orange bloviating Blob. Retire

  • Erwin Schrodinger

    Where is the drama? Business as usual.. a party gets control of a chamber and all the power hungry politicians try to jockey for the post.

  • JBump

    Smart, bottomline thinker, articulate, did her job well last time - why not go with what works? Because the republicans say mean things about her? Isn't that a good sign?

  • Chris Gee

    Nancy has been demonized to the point that she should just step aside and work behind the scenes.

  • Southern CT

    Whatever your thoughts about her may be you can't take away the fact that she is a fighter, and brings in a lot of money.

  • David Rodolff

    Pelosi has needed to go for a while now, but who would replace her? Every possible candidate leans to the left of her (which up until recently I didn't think possible since she was the poster child for extreme left policies). The truly crazy ones are the up and comers for the party.

  • Band, On the Run

    I hope they do name someone else as Speaker. Pelosi, deservedly or not, has too much baggage associated with her. The Dems need to start fresh with some new blood.

  • ItsOnlyaFleshWound

    Pelosi will get the job. And, it will be HILARIOUS to watch all the "Never Pelosi" Democrats who promised not to vote for her vote "Present" or otherwise try to SQUIRM out of their pledges. Then it will be time to GOVERN, Democrats, not just GRIPE. Speaker Pelosi!! Has a NICE "deja vu" sort of RING to it...

  • lou g

    So no one actively challenges old wrinkled Pelosi? Why do Democrats fear her so much?

  • brickmette

    Where's Eric Swalwell?

  • Badger Land

    Trumps personal choice for minority leader, Jim Jordan, just got spanked by Rep. McCarthy. Another trump win. #maga

  • Jim Botto

    The people who need to be replaced are the people who come up with the Democrat's messaging. They might be the worst people in history to ever attempt political messaging.

    If Pelosi is involved heavily with that she should go.