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Pelosi, potential challenger Fudge hold 'candid' discussion

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

House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBiden coronavirus relief bill tests narrow Democratic majority Some Republicans say proxy voting gives advantage to Democrats Gun violence prevention groups optimistic background check legislation can pass this Congress MORE (D-Calif.) huddled Friday with a potential rival for Speaker, Rep. Marcia FudgeMarcia FudgeWe need to lay the foundation for meaningful housing policy change Black Caucus members lobby Biden to tap Shalanda Young for OMB head Sanders votes against Biden USDA nominee Vilsack 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 CummingsBottom line House Democrats reintroduce bill to reduce lobbyist influence Trump voters and progressives have a lot in common — and Biden can unite them 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 PlaskettThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Ahead: One-shot vax, easing restrictions, fiscal help Plaskett makes history for Virgin Islands after role in impeachment Stacey Plaskett jabs Cruz over Cancun getaway 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 LewisVernon Jordan: an American legend, and a good friend GOP lawyer tells Supreme Court curtailing Sunday voting lawful DOJ faces swift turnaround to meet Biden voting rights pledge MORE (D-Ga.), Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), Karen BassKaren Ruth BassSunday shows preview: 2024 hopefuls gather at CPAC; House passes coronavirus relief; vaccine effort continues Black Caucus members lobby Biden to tap Shalanda Young for OMB head George Floyd police reform bill reintroduced in House MORE (D-Calif.), Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersLawmakers, Martin Luther King III discuss federal responses to systematic racism The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Ahead: One-shot vax, easing restrictions, fiscal help Hillicon Valley: Biden signs order on chips | Hearing on media misinformation | Facebook's deal with Australia | CIA nominee on SolarWinds 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 CarsonCongressional Black Caucus unveils '100 Day Plan' An attack on America that's divided Congress — and a nation Cedric Richmond's next move: 'Sky's the limit' if Biden wins 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 WilsonAn attack on America that's divided Congress — and a nation Capitol Police report warned that Congress could be targeted three days before riot Democrats point fingers on whether Capitol rioters had inside help 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 TrumpSouth Carolina Senate adds firing squad as alternative execution method Ex-Trump aide Pierson won't run for Dallas-area House seat House Oversight panel reissues subpoena for Trump's accounting firm 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 YarmuthHouse Democrats pass sweeping .9T COVID-19 relief bill with minimum wage hike House set for tight vote on COVID-19 relief package Budget Committee chair pledges to raise minimum wage: 'Hold me to it' 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 SchakowskyHouse Democrats press Facebook on role as a 'breeding ground for polarization' Facebook, Google, Twitter CEOs to testify at House hearing on misinformation Democrats introduce measure to boost privacy, security of health data during pandemic 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) RyanTim Ryan: Prosecutors reviewing video of Capitol tours given by lawmakers before riot Acting chief acknowledges police were unprepared for mob Six ways to visualize a divided America 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.