Bellarmine Political Review: Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s Quest for the Speakership

By Kevin Schmidek ’19

Democratic powerhouse Representative Nancy Pelosi won her election in California’s District 12 on November 8th, in a landslide, defeating Republican challenger Lisa Remmer 85.7% – 14.3%, respectively. While this may not be surprising for the 31-year-tenured Congressional figure, a more important race faced Pelosi after this victory: a quest to reclaim the position of Speaker of the House. This initially appeared to be a challenge: 16 Democrats, both current and incoming members of the House, signed a letter vowing to oppose Pelosi’s nomination for the speakership, citing a desire for changes in the party’s leadership. But this battle seems to favor Pelosi as of late, as recent developments show that the 1st woman Speaker may reclaim that position as the most powerful woman in government.

The entirety of the year preceding these pivotal midterm elections, Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts insisted on the need for a change in leadership in the House of Representatives. After recruiting more Democrats to his cause, and raising over $8,000,000 for like-minded candidates, he seemed 100% confident in the weeks leading up to the midterms that Pelosi was out, and new leadership would be put in her place.

However, Pelosi, 78 years young and still as politically shrewd as ever, wasn’t going to just roll over and take it. She’s recruited a wave of Democrats to support her bid, including former president Barack Obama, and has already worked on turning those who support Moulton’s cause. Moulton, despite his initially strong rhetoric and anti-Pelosi movement, has already started to negotiate for “peace,” as The Washington Post writes that Moulton is willing to shift focus away from Pelosi and instead seek to shake up leadership even if she holds the Speakership.

You don’t negotiate for peace if you’re winning the war. You go and grovel to the winning side to see what scraps can be picked up from the mess. Moulton, seeing his options begin to dry up, is trying this.

One of the biggest hits to the anti-Pelosi side was the loss of Rep. Marcia Fudge, a potential challenger to Pelosi’s bid and a popular Democrat in the House. While never confirming a desire for the Speakership, she echoed calls for a change in leadership and appeared primed to challenge Pelosi for the gavel. But Pelosi, being the experienced Democrat she is, gave Fudge the chairmanship of a newly revived elections subcommittee, to which Fudge responded with her endorsement of Pelosi, and the vow that the two could work together in the future. Eliminating a potentially threatening candidate in such a clean way shows Pelosi’s comprehensive knowledge of political structures, and shows that the 78-year-old’s got more than a little fight in her.

While Moulton’s group seems to be losing ground, a new bloc of House Democrats has vowed to oppose Pelosi’s bid if she does not accept rule changes that would facilitate the passing of bipartisan legislation. This seems especially important in a divided Congress, with Republicans expanding their majority in the Senate.

While new leadership may be the way to move forward, I have always been a strong supporter of Pelosi. She was the very first woman Speaker, holding the highest government office ever held by a woman in this country, and has defended social justice and issues that I consider important over her lengthy career. She has stood up time and time again against oppression, against mistreatment of women and minority groups, and against this current administration. For Democrats to continue opposing President Trump, and continue defending the liberties we hold dear in this country, I believe that Rep. Pelosi is the best choice for the Speakership.