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Both sides bullish as Pelosi's Speaker fight heats up

Both sides bullish as Pelosi's Speaker fight heats up
© Stefani Reynolds
The rebellious Democrats guaranteeing they will topple Rep. Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBrown says Biden's first moves as president should be COVID relief, voting rights Sunday shows - Spotlight shifts to positive tests among Pence aides Pelosi dismisses talk of White House compromise on stimulus: They 'keep moving the goal post' MORE (D-Calif.) are being met this week by an equally confident Pelosi, who is certain she'll remain the party leader next year.
 
“I’m just going to say that I will be Speaker,” Pelosi said Wednesday morning, leaving a closed-door meeting of the Democratic Caucus in the basement of the Capitol.
 
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The remark came in response to recent vows from several anti-Pelosi Democrats — including Reps. Seth MoultonSeth MoultonTrump slight against Gold Star families adds to military woes Overnight Defense: Congress recommends nuclear arms treaty be extended | Dems warn Turkey | Military's eighth COVID death identified Bipartisan congressional task force recommends extending nuclear treaty with Russia MORE (Mass.) and Filemon VelaFilemon Bartolome VelaHispanic Caucus asks for Department of Labor meeting on COVID in meatpacking plants The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden builds big lead in battleground Florida Texas Democrat proposes COVID-19 victims' compensation fund MORE (Texas) — that they will rally enough rank-and-file opposition to prevent Pelosi from winning the Speaker contest on the House floor, a vote slated for Jan. 3.
 
 
“I agree with them,” he said.
 
Ryan challenged Pelosi unsuccessfully two years ago and subsequently supported her in the House vote on the floor in 2017. He won’t be doing the same this time around.
 
“Definitely not,” he said.
 
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The insurgents have been circulating a letter in an effort to build enough support to prove that Pelosi would lack the votes for Speaker on the floor, where a simple majority of all voting members — minus abstentions — is needed to secure the gavel.
 
The detractors have declined to say how many signatures they’ve gathered, or when the letter will be released. Ryan said it may emerge this week, or they may hold it to build more support.
 
“If the momentum keeps building, like we see it is, then we may keep it open for a little while,” he said. “We want to make sure we have the maximum number on it.”
 
 
“Jan. 3 is the date,” Perlmutter said.
 
The precise number of detractors needed to block Pelosi’s ascension remains unclear, because a number of midterm races around the country are still undecided. Based on projections, Pelosi could likely lose between 12 and 17 Democratic votes and still secure the gavel.
 
Perlmutter said the detractors are nearing the threshold they think they’ll need. 
 
“It’s fluid but, yeah, we’re close,” he said. “This was a change election; that’s the bottom line.”
 
Complicating the insurgents’ efforts, no candidate has emerged to challenge Pelosi for the party’s Speaker nomination, a vote to be decided by private ballot on Nov. 28.
 
 
“We have a lot of very bright people in this caucus, but it’s very difficult to move up in an environment where the same people run everything all the time,” Fudge said leaving Wednesday’s meeting.
 
Ryan said he’s been pressing Fudge to jump into the Speaker’s race — an option Fudge is not ruling out.
 
“I have ruled out nothing,” she said. “I am getting encouraged. That’s what made me start thinking about it.”
 
Meanwhile, the Pelosi whipping machine is churning at full throttle. The long-time Democratic leader is wrangling endorsements from fellow lawmakers, outside lobbyist groups and national party leaders, who are all pressuring on-the-fence Democrats to get behind Pelosi.
 
Several of Pelosi’s early detractors have already jumped on board, including Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), who had called for leadership changes after the 2016 cycle.
 
Democrats in the Problem Solvers caucus are also playing hardball. Behind Rep. Josh GottheimerJoshua (Josh) GottheimerTrump fuels and frustrates COVID-19 relief talks Trump's illness sparks new urgency for COVID-19 deal House approves .2T COVID-19 relief bill as White House talks stall MORE (D-N.J.), the co-chairman of the bipartisan group, 10 Democrats had vowed to withhold their vote for any Speaker nominee who doesn’t endorse a series of rules changes proposed by the group.
 
Rep. Salud CarbajalSalud CarbajalMichigan Republican isolating after positive coronavirus test GOP Rep. Mike Bost tests positive for COVID-19 Democratic Rep. Carbajal tests positive for COVID-19 MORE (D-Calif.) had initially joined that effort. But on Wednesday, he said he’s removed his name from the letter. One of the reasons, he said, is “there’s no alternative [to Pelosi].”