WASHINGTON – Nancy Pelosi’s bid to become speaker of the House is becoming more complicated, as 17 Democrats have now signed a letter saying they won’t vote for her on the House floor, according to four sources with knowledge of the matter.
If these Democrats stick to this pledge, the California Democrat, who is currently the leader of her party in the House, may not have the votes to become speaker. In addition to the 17, five additional Democrats have pledged not to support her on the floor but have yet to sign the letter, one of the sources said.
The goal of the Pelosi critics is to force her out of the speaker’s race by convincing her she does not have the votes to win. But Pelosi and her allies reject that notion and are confident of their chances, saying she will call their bluff on the floor.
Pelosi first needs to win a majority of the House Democrats to win the caucus nomination on November 28. Then, she needs to win a majority of House members who vote for a candidate — likely 218 — and can’t afford to lose too many Democrats on the floor.
Democrats are poised to hold at least 227 seats in the new Congress compared to 200 for Republicans, with eight races still yet to be called by CNN.
What’s unclear is who will run against Pelosi on the Democratic side. Ohio Reps. Marcia Fudge and Tim Ryan both have told CNN they are not ruling out a bid.
Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s spokesman, projected confidence that she would get the votes.
“Leader Pelosi is very confident in her support among Members and Members-elect,” Hammill said.
A senior Democratic aide said Pelosi would not be deterred.
“Members on the ‘list’ are all to the right of Pelosi,” the aide emailed. “Pelosi will take this to the floor in January, so she will be calling their bluff.”