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Pelosi launches formal bid for Speaker in next Congress

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGovernors take heat for violating their own coronavirus restrictions Spending deal clears obstacle in shutdown fight Ocasio-Cortez, Cruz trade jabs over COVID-19 relief: People 'going hungry as you tweet from' vacation MORE (D-Calif.) on Thursday formally launched her bid to keep the gavel for another two years, sending a letter to fellow Democrats seeking their support.

Pelosi has led the caucus since 2003, and had made it no mystery in recent weeks that she intended to retain that position in the next Congress.

While voters on Tuesday maintained the Democrats' majority in the lower chamber, it was a bruising cycle for Pelosi and party leaders, who had promised to pick off vulnerable Republicans and expand their numbers advantage in 2021. Instead, Democrats lost at least seven incumbent seats, and as of Friday morning they had not knocked off a single Republican seeking reelection.

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The dispiriting results have sparked plenty of finger-pointing within the diverse and divisive caucus, with moderates and liberals trading barbs over who bears the blame, and lawmakers of all stripes criticizing their leadership's messaging strategy heading into the polls.

In her letter, Pelosi alluded to those tensions, noting the "diverse viewpoints of our Democratic Caucus" and "the urgency of the challenges ahead." The Speaker said she'll be contacting members individually "to get the benefit of your thinking fresh from your campaign trail."

"Our Caucus is blessed with many diverse and entrepreneurial perspectives," she wrote.

But Pelosi largely focused on the Democrats' legislative plans for the next Congress, promising to move quickly — with the help of a potential President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden adds to vote margin over Trump after Milwaukee County recount Krebs says allegations of foreign interference in 2020 election 'farcical'  New DOJ rule could allow executions by electrocution, firing squad MORE — on efforts to tackle climate change, boost health care access, launch a massive infrastructure initiative, provide coronavirus relief and reform the election system, which has come under fire this year for inefficiencies exposed by the pandemic.

"Our vision for the next two years must be to build on the success of the Democratic House Majority in the 116th Congress, and to harvest the extraordinary vision, values and vibrancy of our Caucus to secure the progress that the American people deserve," she wrote in the letters, which she signed individually to each lawmaker.

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There appears to be no threat to Pelosi's bid to retain the gavel. The Speaker has the overwhelming support of her caucus, and won widespread praise over the last two years for her confrontational dealings with President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden adds to vote margin over Trump after Milwaukee County recount Krebs says allegations of foreign interference in 2020 election 'farcical'  Republicans ready to become deficit hawks again under a President Biden MORE, including his impeachment, and her handling of the pandemic. Heading into the elections, she was not expected to face a challenger.

Yet a small group of restless moderates, frustrated with Tuesday's election results, is already in talks to recruit a Democrat to take her on.

With many race's results still outstanding, it's unclear if that effort gains steam. Pelosi had faced a revolt from a similar group of rebellious lawmakers after the 2018 cycle, but they were unable to find a candidate willing to challenge her, and Pelosi won the gavel this Congress with votes to spare.