Ex-Black Caucus chair backs Pelosi challenger
© Greg Nash

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) secured a significant endorsement on Wednesday in his bid to challenge House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in a former chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus.

In a statement, Democratic Rep. Marcia FudgeMarcia Louise FudgeBooker unveils legislation for federal bill to ban discrimination against natural hair Kamala Harris aide says in resignation letter: 'I have never seen an organization treat its staff so poorly' Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to testify on Libra | Extremists find home on Telegram app | Warren blasts Facebook for not removing anti-Biden ad | California outlaws facial recognition in police body cameras | China rips US tech sanctions MORE said her fellow Ohioan offered what she believes is a necessary change after another disappointing election cycle for House Democrats.

Pelosi had predicted double-digit gains to cut into the House GOP majority in 2016, but Democrats have only netted six seats.

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"I believe now is the right time for new leadership," Fudge said as she questioned the effectiveness of the party's strategy in recent years. "We continue to rely on consultants who know less than we about our districts and our states."

"I am now and have always been a loyal Democrat. I will support all those we elect to leadership positions. However, I do believe this is the time for a new direction and am confident my colleague from Ohio is the right choice."

Fudge was the third House Democrat to back Ryan on Wednesday, along with centrist Reps. Jim Cooper (Tenn.) and Kurt Schrader (Ore.). Ryan's total number of public endorsements now stands at five.

Reps. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) and Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) are also supporting Ryan.

Rice and Fudge notably did not sign a letter circulated by Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) among female lawmakers expressing support for Pelosi. They were among only six of the 56 returning incumbent Democratic women absent from the letter's signatories. 

Fudge is the first member of the CBC to endorse Ryan. That's a departure from the CBC's usual support for Pelosi, which stems in large part because she backs prioritizing seniority when choosing committee leaders. CBC members have argued seniority helps prevent them from being passed over for top committee slots.

Several CBC members hold prized ranking-member slots, including Reps. Elijah Cummings (Md.), John Conyers (Mich.), Eddie Bernice Johnson (Texas), Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottDemocratic lawmaker tears into DeVos: You're 'out to destroy public education' Democrats lash out at DeVos over proposed changes to loan forgiveness plan House passes bill that would give legal status to thousands of undocumented farmworkers MORE (Va.), Maxine Waters (Calif.) and Bennie Thompson (Miss.). 

Pelosi claimed before Ryan entered the race that she had support from more than two-thirds of the caucus, which will be tested in next Wednesday's closed-door leadership elections.