Pelosi, potential challenger Fudge hold 'candid' discussion

Pelosi, potential challenger Fudge hold 'candid' discussion
© Greg Nash

House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiDOJ plans to release 'lightly redacted' version of Mueller report Thursday: WaPo Pelosi accuses Barr of 'single-minded effort' to protect Trump against Mueller report Dems attack Barr's credibility after report of White House briefings on Mueller findings MORE (D-Calif.) huddled Friday with a potential rival for Speaker, Rep. Marcia FudgeMarcia Louise FudgeDems rally behind Omar as Trump escalates attacks Congressional Black Caucus faces tough decision on Harris, Booker Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee to step down as CBC Foundation chair amid lawsuit MORE (D-Ohio), as the Democratic infighting intensified over who will lead their newly won majority next year.

Neither Pelosi nor Fudge disclosed details of their 45-minute conversation, which took place in Pelosi’s office in the Capitol. The meeting was brokered by Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsHouse Dems demand Barr cancel 'inappropriate' press conference on Mueller report DOJ plans to release 'lightly redacted' version of Mueller report Thursday: WaPo Dems attack Barr's credibility after report of White House briefings on Mueller findings MORE (D-Md.), among the most powerful figures in the Congressional Black Caucus and a strong supporter of Pelosi. Both Fudge and Cummings have chaired the CBC in previous years.

“We had a candid and respectful conversation," Pelosi said in a terse statement.

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Fudge is being lobbied heavily by a group of anti-Pelosi insurgents to challenge Pelosi, who’s been at the top of the party since 2003.

Before the meeting, Fudge, walking down the hallway to the Capitol, told The Hill she had not made any decision yet about jumping into the Speaker’s race against Pelosi.  

Del. Stacey PlaskettStacey PlaskettChris Evans talks NATO, Marvel secrets on Capitol Hill Dem goes viral for 'eye roll' at Republican during Cohen testimony Clyburn pushes next steps on criminal justice reform MORE, a Democrat from the Virgin Islands who was walking with her, quickly interjected: “I think she would be great."

Fudge later told reporters she would make her decision about the race sometime after Thanksgiving. 

The timeline leaves little room for Fudge to rally support before the caucus leadership votes, which are scheduled for Nov. 28.

While Pelosi foes are propping up Fudge as a viable candidate who could make history as the first black Speaker in U.S. history, Pelosi continues to roll out endorsements from Fudge’s base, the Congressional Black Caucus, which Fudge previous led.

Members of the CBC backing Pelosi include senior Reps. John LewisJohn LewisLiberals surprised by tax vote vow to kill 'Free File' provision House passes bill to modernize IRS The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump looks to get tougher on border with Nielsen out MORE (D-Ga.), Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), Karen BassKaren Ruth BassThe Hill's Morning Report - Waiting on Mueller: Answers come on Thursday Dems rally behind Omar as Trump escalates attacks Black Caucus warns Trump is putting Omar's life at risk MORE (D-Calif.), Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersHouse Dems demand Barr cancel 'inappropriate' press conference on Mueller report On The Money — Presented by Job Creators Network — Treasury misses Dem deadline on Trump tax returns | Senate GOP opposition to Cain grows | Dems challenge bank CEOs on post-crisis reforms Ocasio-Cortez grills bankers on if more should have gone to jail for financial crisis MORE (D-Calif.) and James Clyburn (D-S.C.), a close friend to Fudge who suggested Thursday that her challenge of Pelosi could harm his bid to become majority whip.

On Friday, Rep. Andre CarsonAndré CarsonHouse passes anti-hate measure amid Dem tensions Is the collusion theory dead? Religious affiliation in new Congress under-represents US population, poll finds MORE (D-Ind.), yet another CBC member, backed Pelosi.

“Pelosi put the first Muslim on” the Intelligence Committee. “I’m Team Pelosi,” Carson said, referring to himself, the second Muslim American ever elected to Congress.

“100 percent overjoyed to support Nancy Pelosi. Marcia hasn’t said she’s going to run for anything, and I’m for Pelosi,” added Rep. Frederica WilsonFrederica Patricia WilsonJuan Williams: Racial shifts spark fury in Trump and his base Dem behind impeachment push to boycott State of the Union Democrats seek to take on Trump at State of the Union MORE (D-Fla.), another Black Caucus member and a veteran of the civil rights movement.

Wilson added that “when you find somebody who can deliver this many new members to a caucus and who carries the entire caucus on her back,” that person deserves to be Speaker.

Pelosi and her allies are arguing that she’s the best qualified to take on President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Dems demand Barr cancel 'inappropriate' press conference on Mueller report DOJ plans to release 'lightly redacted' version of Mueller report Thursday: WaPo Nadler accuses Barr of 'unprecedented steps' to 'spin' Mueller report MORE and Republican leaders in the GOP-controlled Senate, since she was previously Speaker under a Republican president and has experience at the negotiation table.

“That’s her ... strongest case,” said Rep. John YarmuthJohn Allen YarmuthDivided Dems look to regroup On The Money — Presented by Job Creators Network — GOP senators urge Trump not to nominate Cain | Treasury expected to miss Dem deadline on Trump tax returns | Party divisions force Dems to scrap budget vote | House passes IRS reform bill Left-center divide forces Dems to scrap budget vote MORE (D-Ky.), another Pelosi supporter.

“At this dangerous moment in history — and I believe that it is — we need someone battle-tested, someone who has been in the room where it happens with the president and the top leadership,” echoed Rep. Jan SchakowskyJanice (Jan) Danoff SchakowskyDemocratic proposals to overhaul health care: A 2020 primer Bipartisan group asks DHS, ICE to halt deportations of Iraqi nationals FTC has received 26,000 complaints about Facebook privacy violations since 2012 MORE (D-Ill.), a strong Pelosi ally. “Without her, there would be no woman at that small table.”

The male-dominated insurgents have heard those criticisms loud and clear, and in recent days they’ve promoted the notion of elevating a woman to the top spot. Fudge was the first to announce publicly that she’s interested.

Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) John RyanO'Rourke says he is willing to appear on Fox News Klobuchar to appear in Fox News town hall in May Tim Ryan: 'I'm concerned' about rise of socialism in Democratic Party MORE (D-Ohio), who challenged Pelosi unsuccessfully in 2016, is among Fudge’s top boosters. He’s pressing his fellow Buckeye to jump in the race, offering to lead her whip operation. Not only would Fudge be the first African American Speaker, Ryan said, she’d also bring a Midwestern voice to a leadership table that’s tilted heavily in favor of coastal figures.

“If you look at the leadership races right now, there is nobody in leadership anywhere from New Mexico to the East Coast,” Ryan said.

“I couldn’t be more excited about the fact she’s entertaining this,” he continued. “The country needs to come together, our caucus need to come together — we need to heal. And Marcia Fudge, in my estimation, is one of the people who could make that happen.”

Updated at 1:27 p.m.