Fudge endorses Nancy Pelosi in surprise move

Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) endorsed Democratic leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) for Speaker in the next Congress in a surprise move Tuesday, abandoning the idea of challenging her.
Fudge, who huddled with Pelosi in the Capitol on Friday, said Pelosi has offered to restore a defunct subcommittee on elections, and to make Fudge the chairwoman.
The issue of voting rights has been a top priority of members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), which Fudge used to lead, particularly since a 2013 Supreme Court decision scrapped key protections previously provided under the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
{mosads}Fudge is vowing to use her new gavel to restore those protections.
“Leader Pelosi has granted me the opportunity to create the record necessary to satisfy the 2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder, so that the protections of the Voting Rights Act will be reinstated and improved,” Fudge said in a statement.
“She has also assured me that the most loyal voting bloc in the Democratic party, Black women, will have a seat at the decision-making table,” she added.
“I am now confident that we will move forward together and that the 116th Congress will be a Congress of which we can all be proud.  I now join my colleagues in support of the leadership team of Pelosi, [Steny] Hoyer and [James] Clyburn.”
Fudge has been embroiled in her own controversy this week, after reports emerged that she’d once defended an Ohio judge facing domestic violence charges — a man recently charged with murdering his former wife.

Fudge issued a statement earlier on Tuesday condemning the alleged crimes in no uncertain terms.

“The person who committed these crimes is not the Lance Mason familiar to me,” she said. “They were horrific crimes, and I condemn them.”

Fudge’s decision is a huge setback for a group of rebellious Democrats who are scrambling to build support to oust Pelosi, who has led the party since 2003. Key leaders of that group — including Reps. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), Filemon Vela (D-Texas), Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) and Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) — had been encouraged by Fudge’s interest in a Pelosi challenge, and all of them were pressing her to jump into the race.

On Monday, the group sent a letter to colleagues arguing that midterm voters, who delivered the House majority to the Democrats for the first time in a decade, wanted to shake up Washington, starting with an overhaul of the Democratic leadership.

“We promised to change the status quo and we intend to deliver on that promise,” the insurgents wrote.

The letter was endorsed by 16 Democrats: 11 sitting members and five incoming freshmen. Fudge, who had said last week that she was on the letter, had asked Monday that her name be taken off, fueling plenty of speculation about her reasoning.

Her decision to abandon the insurgency highlights the raw power of the Pelosi machine, which has switched into high gear to deliver her the Speakership in the face of the gravest threat to her leadership in the 15 years she’s been atop the party.

As the Fudge announcement spotlights, among the tools of persuasion at Pelosi’s disposal is the ability to grant committee and subcommittee gavels.

The election subcommittee, falling under the House Administration Committee, was scrapped by the Republicans in 2013. Pelosi said Monday that election-related controversies in Florida, Georgia and other states in recent years demand its reinstatement, and praised Fudge as “a relentless advocate for the right of every citizen to vote.”

“With the Committee on House Administration’s powerful jurisdiction over the Help America Vote Act, the Election Assistance Commission and the Federal Election Commission, Chairwoman Fudge will play a critical role in our Democratic Majority’s efforts to ensure access to the ballot box for all Americans,” Pelosi said in a statement.

Fudge’s new position chairing the election subcommittee empowers her to tackle the voting rights issues that have long been high on the Democrats’ wish list, particularly among members of the CBC.

The Voting Rights Act had required a number of states with a history of racial discrimination at the polls — most of them in the South — to get federal approval before changing their voting rules.

In a 5-4 decision in June 2013, the Supreme Court eliminated that requirement. Behind Chief Justice John Roberts, the Court’s conservative majority found that the formula dictating which states are subject to the extra hurdles — defined by Section 4 of the law — is outdated and therefore unconstitutional.

Roberts invited Congress to “draft another formula based on current conditions” — an option Republican leaders rejected.

Fudge won’t do the same.

“The erosion of voting rights and civil rights was on full display in Georgia, Florida, North Dakota, Ohio and Texas,” she said in Tuesday’s statement. “Our party should reflect the diversity of our changing nation and guarantee all our citizens the unfettered right to vote and to have every vote count.”

Tags Congress Democratic leadership Filemon Vela House Kathleen Rice Marcia Fudge Nancy Pelosi Seth Moulton Speaker Tim Ryan
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