Minority Leader Pelosi to face challenge in House leadership race

Following disastrous election results in which Democrats underperformed in races for both houses of Congress and the White House, one ambitious Ohio Democrat, Youngstown’s Tim Ryan, has resolved the party has reached a pivotal moment and is in need of fresh leadership.

Ryan officially announced on Thursday his intent to stand for the House Minority Leader position against incumbent Nancy Pelosi.

“What we are doing right now is not working,” Ryan said in a letter to fellow Democrats. “Under our current leadership, Democrats have been reduced to our smallest congressional minority since 1929. This should indicate to all of us that keeping our leadership team completely unchanged will simply lead to more disappointment in future elections.”

Ryan, 43, has strong union backing, opposes some forms of gun control, favors abortion and is a passionate opponent of free-trade agreements, making him appealing to a flourishing constituency in his Rust Belt region.

Announcing his bid with no apparent Caucus support, Ryan’s bid may appear to be an uphill battle: Pelosi announced Thursday morning she was confident in two-thirds support from the Democratic Caucus.

Originally scheduled for Thursday, Pelosi postponed leadership elections until Nov. 30 following some Caucus members expressing concern over the party’s direction and some demanding a road map prior to the widely-assumed reelection of current leaders.

A long-time San Francisco Democrat, Pelosi was elevated to the position of House Minority Whip in 2002, succeeding Michigan’s David Bonior.  Following the retirement of Minority Leader Dick Gephardt in 2003, Pelosi assumed the leadership post and accepted the Speaker’s gavel after the Democrats seized control of the House from the GOP during the 2006 mid-terms.

Elected in 2007 and reelected Speaker in 2009, Pelosi was at the helm when Republicans re-took 63 House seats in 2010, inflicting staggering losses on Democrats.

Despite the hemorrhaging of Democratic members in recent years, Pelosi still has many loyal supporters.

“She has been an extraordinary leader,” said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass). “If it weren’t for her, a lot of things that are near and dear to our hearts would have been eviscerated. She’s a good negotiator even in the minority.”

 

[Bloomberg] [AP] [Photo courtesy Pat Benic/UPI]