Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi may have survived November’s contentious leadership vote - securing an eighth term as the Democrats’ leader in the House despite an abysmal election-day performance and a formidable challenge by Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan, a 43-year-old Congressman from Youngstown, Ohio – but tensions between the San Francisco congresswoman and rank-and-file lawmakers, many of whom believe (correctly) that her toxic public personal outweighs her effectiveness as a fundraiser, never subsided.
Now, one senior House Democrat is calling for Pelosi and her two most-senior lieutenants – Steny Hoyer and Jim Clyburn – to step aside and make way for a new generation of lawmakers to lead the party in the post-Obama era.
The comments by Rep. Linda T. Sánchez (Calif.), who, as vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus is the fifth-highest ranking Democrat in the House, mark the first time a member of the party’s leadership has openly called for Pelosi to step down, as the Washington Post reports.
Pelosi’s half-hearted attempt to appease her critics by doling out leadership positions to junior lawmakers have done little to assuage the rank and file’s anger.
On Thursday, the party’s simmering dissatisfaction with Pelosi burst into full view when Sanchez shared her thoughts about the party’s leadership in a TV interview.
“I do think it’s time to pass a torch to a new generation of leaders, and I want to be a part of that transition,” Sanchez said on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” in an interview conducted by reporters with The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times.
“I want to see that happen. I think we have too many great members here that don’t always get the opportunities that they should. I would like to see that change.”
Pressed to clarify her comments, Sanchez went further and said House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (Md.) and House Assistant Minority Leader James E. Clyburn (S.C.), who have been part of Pelosi’s leadership team for more than a decade, also should prepare to step down.
“They are all of the same generation, and, again, their contributions to the Congress and the caucus are substantial. But I think there comes a time when you need to pass that torch. And I think it’s time,” she said.
Pelosi, 77, has served in Congress since 1987 and has led House Democrats for 14 years. She served as House speaker – becoming the first female speaker - from 2007 to 2011, when Republicans regained the majority, which they’ve held ever since.
Sanchez clarified that she doesn’t expect the leadership change to happen immediately; instead, she hopes it will happen after the 2018 midterms. The 48-year-old lawmaker also stressed that her concerns focused on seniority, not age.
“This is not an age thing,” she said.
The timing of Sanchez’s statement is notable. Last month, Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, her counterpart in the senate, struck a deal with Trump to preserve DACA protections in exchange for rallying Democratic support for Trump’s bill to avert a government shutdown.
So, will Sanchez’s candid statement inspire other senior legislators to speak out? What do you think?