Politics

Pelosi Narrowly Wins House Democratic Leader Re-Election

| by Lauren Briggs

Nancy Pelosi will serve another term as House Minority Leader, after winning her re-election on Nov. 30 against fellow Rep. Tim Ryan.

Pelosi took in 68 percent of her party's votes, reports FiveThirtyEight. Though that might be considered a landslide in a presidential election, it is the narrowest party leadership race in years -- indeed, in 2015, the California Democrat was re-elected to the same position with 100 percent of the vote, and she has never been voted into a House leadership position with much less than 90 percent of her party's support.

"We know how to win elections," Pelosi, whom many Democrats praise for her fundraising prowess, told reporters after the vote, according to FiveThirtyEight. "We've done it in the past, we will do it again."

But Pelosi's narrow victory reflects trouble for establishment Democrats, who have been under attack by those looking to revitalize the party with a more progressive, grassroots approach in an attempt to win back millions of working-class whites who feel alienated by their party -- which Ryan said is precisely why he made the decision to challenge the Democratic leader for her seat, notes The Washington Post.

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Ryan said that after he saw his Ohio county, which has voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in every election since 1972, swing to cast their votes for President-elect Donald Trump, he knew he had to do something.

"That changed my entire world view," Ryan said of his county switching to vote for Trump after President Barack Obama won it by 23 points in 2012. "That rocked me. As I saw the blue firewall collapse, I was like: I need to step up. … I need to be a bigger voice in the party."

Several Democratic legislators endorsed Ryan, praising him for his youth and energy.

"The American people sent a very clear message on November 8th that the status quo is not working. And now, the Democratic Party must respond," Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts said in a statement on Nov. 29, according to The Hill.  "Tim represents a new generation of leaders who are ready to make real change, rather than renew the status quo, and the future of our party demands that kind of leadership now more than ever."

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The last House party leader to lose their position to a challenger was in 1964, when Republican Gerald Ford beat Charlie Halleck to become the minority leader.

Sources: FiveThirtyEight, The Washington Post, The Hill / Photo credit: Speaker Nancy Pelosi via Wikimedia Commons

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