A pair of junior Democrats, frustrated with the party's entrenched minority status, are lining up behind Rep. Tim Ryan’s (D-Ohio) challenge to the long reign of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
The younger members, who've been agitating for change since the elections without making an endorsement, broke that silence Tuesday, in hopes of providing some momentum to Ryan's long-shot bid just a day before Wednesday's leadership elections.
“The American people sent a very clear message on November 8th that the status quo is not working. And now, the Democratic Party must respond," Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) said in a statement.
"Tim represents a new generation of leaders who are ready to make real change, rather than renew the status quo, and the future of our party demands that kind of leadership now more than ever."
Moulton was joined by Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), an up-and-coming member of the Hispanic Caucus just elected to his second term, who said the Democrats "must do more than simply paper over the cracks" following four election cycles when the party has failed to win the majority.
"We can’t just say the right things — we must take concrete steps to move our party in the right direction," Gallego said in a statement.
“Congressman Ryan has been a relentless advocate for working families and progressive policies," he added. "He is young and energetic, and I believe he will lead our Caucus in standing up to President-elect Trump and his administration and their plans to roll back civil liberties and our country’s social advancement."
Ryan has a steep climb ahead if he hopes to defeat Pelosi, a political powerhouse and legendary fundraiser who's led the Democrats for 14 years and has strong support within the liberal-leaning caucus.
Fewer than a dozen Democrats have come out publicly in favor of Ryan. They include Reps. Jim Cooper (Tenn.), Kurt Schrader (Ore.), Marcia FudgeMarcia FudgeBiden administration launches new national initiative to fight homelessness Sanders goes back to 2016 playbook to sell .5T budget Activists detail legal fight against HUD for Philadelphia housing MORE (Ohio), Alcee Hastings (Fla.), Beto O'Rourke (Texas), Ed Perlmutter (Colo.) and Kathleen Rice (N.Y.).
Still, Wednesday's vote will be by secret ballot — a dynamic that will allow restive members to back Ryan without fear of ruffling Pelosi's feathers.
Pelosi's last challenge came in 2010, when she easily defeated then-Rep. Heath Shuler, a Blue Dog Democrat from North Carolina. The vote was a lopsided 150 to 43.
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