House Dems re-elect Pelosi as top leader

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WASHINGTON – Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., won another term Wednesday morning as the leader of House Democrats, turning back calls from some in recent weeks who said it was time for a change.

Pelosi defeated Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, 134-63, in a secret ballot conducted in a closed session.

Pelosi tweeted after the voted that she was “honored” to be chosen to lead House Democrats. “Let’s get to work,” Pelosi wrote.

Ryan said even though his bid fell short he’s glad it forced House Democrats to have a family conversation about changes that are needed.

“I’m disappointed because I like to win, but I think it was a great discussion for us,” he said, adding that he believes the House Democratic caucus will be more energized now.

“I ran for leader because I believe strongly in the promise of the Democratic Party, but November taught us that changes were necessary,” Ryan said.

Ryan, D-Ohio, had launched his bid to replace Pelosi two weeks ago after Democrats took a beating on Election Day, failing to win the White House or control of the Senate or House. He had said on Tuesday that he was “within striking distance” of besting Pelosi.

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., told reporters outside the meeting room where members were casting ballots Wednesday morning that he believes Ryan’s challenge provided healthy competition.

“I think it’s aired some issues that are, have needed to be aired,” he said.

But Connolly stuck with Pelosi.

“I, at the end of the day, believe we need stable leadership,” he said. “With the impending Trump administration, Democrats need to be united and we need a shrewd strategist, and I think that’s Nancy Pelosi.”

Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., told reporters outside the meeting room that he supported Ryan because he said the Democratic Party has been in a “steady decline” for years and it’s time to try something different.

“We’ve got some soul-searching to do here and I think we’ve got to change direction here and widen our base to include working people,” he said.

Lynch said Ryan would more connect with them than current leadership who he said has swung to the far left. “We talk about free-range chickens more than we talk about working people,” he said

Pelosi sent several missives to colleagues in recent days, promising to shake up the way she oversees House Democrats, including providing more opportunities for more junior members to participate in leadership decisions.

“As we continue to discuss how we communicate the values of liberty, justice and dignity for all Americans, many members have come forward eager to participate,” she wrote in a letter Friday. “I am energized by the enthusiasm of members and our outside allies who see the opportunities that lie ahead and the commitment we have to address the needs of America’s working families,” she said.

Pelosi, 76, has been the House Democratic leader since 2003. While she helped lead the party back to the majority in 2006 — and became the first female speaker of the House — she also oversaw the loss of that majority in 2010, and the three elections since have not improved Democrats’ status in the chamber.

That led Ryan to launch his bid.

Ryan said Tuesday that there are fewer Democrats in the House now than at any time since 1929, and it is time to grow that number.

“We’ve really got to ask ourselves: What are we going to tell the American people? That what happened on (Election Day) and what we’ve not been able to do since 2010 is OK; We’re going to keep going down the same path,” he said on CNN. “Or will we have a new messenger, a new message, a new brand and a new Democratic Party?”

Pelosi has maintained from the start that she had the votes to remain Democratic leader, declaring on the day she announced she would run for another term that she already had the support of two thirds of the House’s 190-odd Democrats.

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