Both sides bullish as Pelosi's Speaker fight heats up

Both sides bullish as Pelosi's Speaker fight heats up
© Stefani Reynolds
“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.
The remark came in response to recent vows from several anti-Pelosi Democrats — including Reps. Seth MoultonSeth MoultonMarkey fundraises ahead of Kennedy primary challenge The Hill's Campaign Report: De Blasio drops out | Warren gains support from black voters | Sanders retools campaign team | Warning signs for Tillis in NC Young insurgents aren't rushing to Kennedy's side in Markey fight MORE (Mass.) and Filemon VelaFilemon Bartolome VelaHere are the Democrats who aren't co-sponsoring an assault weapons ban DCCC faces mass staff shakeup: 'It's the Monday Night Massacre' DCCC exec resigns amid furor over minority representation 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.
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) GottheimerThe Hill's Morning Report - US coastline readies for Hurricane Dorian to make landfall Swing-seat Democrats oppose impeachment, handing Pelosi leverage Republicans plot comeback in New Jersey 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 CarbajalHispanic Democrats: ICE raids designed to distract from Trump ties to Epstein Democrats wary of Trump's 'erratic' approach to Iran WHIP LIST: The 132 House Democrats backing an impeachment inquiry 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].”