Dem women ask Pelosi to remain leader

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Citing the need for strong female role models in the public sphere, dozens of Democratic women are urging Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to keep her spot on top of the party’s House caucus in the next Congress.

In a Dear Colleague letter sent Friday, the lawmakers made the case that Pelosi’s experience and political toughness makes her best suited for the task of defending President Obama’s legacy from incoming President Donald Trump and the GOP leaders who will control both chambers of Congress next year. 

{mosads}“Under your leadership, Democrats delivered historic progress in the lives of women, workers, students, veterans, seniors and LGBT Americans. … With a President Trump and a Republican Congress, this hard-won progress faces its greatest challenge,” the lawmakers wrote.   

“We believe that now, more than ever, our Caucus and our country need your strategic, battle-tested leadership to guide us through the years ahead.”

Democrats are scheduled to hold their leadership elections on Thursday. 

The letter was spearheaded by Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), who solicited only current female lawmakers who will be returning next year. Forty Democratic women have signed on thus far. 

Central to their argument is this: After Hillary Clinton’s defeat on Tuesday –– and considering the controversies surrounding Trump’s treatment of women –– the Democrats need a high-profile woman to provide an example to America’s youth.

“After everything that happened in this campaign, the defeat of Hillary Clinton is an especially heavy blow to the aspirations of young women and girls,” the Democrats wrote. “They need to see the first woman Speaker –– and every woman Member of Congress –– standing firm in the halls of power, continuing the fight for their rights, their dignity, and their dreams.”

Pelosi has not revealed her plans for the next Congress. Instead, she’s laid low since the elections, calling members to lend counsel –– and receive it –– ahead of Congress’s return to Washington on Monday, when her Caucus will huddle under much grimmer conditions than those surrounding their pre-election exodus from Capitol Hill in September. 

As part of that process, Pelosi was spotted lunching this week at a popular Washington bistro with former-Rep. George Miller, a fellow California liberal and among her closest confidants.

Miller retired in 2015 after 40 years in Congress; Pelosi was just reelected to her 16th term.

Perhaps hinting at her intentions, Pelosi responded to Trump’s victory with vows to work with the new administration, creating high expectations that she’ll seek another term as the Democratic leader in the 115th Congress.

It’s virtually hers for the taking. Now in her 29th year on Capitol Hill, Pelosi has led the House Democrats since 2003 –– the longest stretch atop the party in more than five decades –– and she’s gone unchallenged through most of that tenure. 

Her leadership run includes four years as House Speaker, when she became the most powerful elected woman in the country’s history –– a distinction she’ll retain for the indefinite future after Clinton lost her presidential bid on Tuesday.

Pelosi is also the most formidable Democratic fundraiser on Capitol Hill, hauling in almost $128 million for the party this election cycle (through September), including almost $106 million for the Democrats’ campaign arm.

Her longevity has not been without some controversy. In 2010, after the Democrats’ lost 63 seats and ceded power to the Republicans, many in the party thought she should step down to make way for a younger crop of leaders. Former-Rep. Heath Shuler (D), a North Carolina Blue Dog, launched a challenge, but Pelosi easily prevailed in the liberal Caucus, 150-43.

It’s unclear if the Democrats’ disastrous showing in Tuesday’s elections will lead to a similar coup attempt this year. With Trump at the top of the GOP ticket, the Democrats had hoped vulnerable Republicans would suffer down the ballot and flip upwards of 20 seats to the Democrats. Instead, Trump brought out unexpected numbers of the GOP faithful, limiting the Republican losses to just six seats. (Two California races remain too close to call).

Pelosi, for her part, is vowing to work with the Trump White House, singling out infrastructure as one area where the parties can unite to move a significant piece of economy-boosting legislation early next year. 

“We have a responsibility to come together and find common ground,” she said in response to the election results.

Pelosi spoke with Trump by phone on Wednesday, emphasizing their shared push for an infrastructure package and urging the president-elect to adopt “an open line of communication” with both the Democrats’ minority caucuses and female lawmakers in both parties.


Tags Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Nancy Pelosi

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