WASHINGTON — Democrats nominated Nancy Pelosi to be the next Speaker of the House, but she will need to convince a significant number of dissenters to back her bid for leadership when elections are held as the next Congress convenes on Jan. 3.
The closed-door vote among the Democratic caucus on Wednesday was 203-32, with three members leaving their ballots blank and one absent. Pelosi needs 218 votes to return to the speakership, but she has to convince enough Democratic dissidents to back her bid. No other Democrat is challenging her for the speakership post, but members were allowed to vote “no” against her in the caucus balloting.
“I’m talking about scores of members of Congress who just gave me a vote, are giving me a vote of confidence,” Pelosi told reporters on Capitol Hill during a break from the closed-door caucus. “That is where our focus is. Are there dissenters? Yes. But I expect to have a powerful vote as we go forward.”
The dissenters include Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), who says the request among he and other representatives has been that Pelosi “produce a meaningful plan for leadership transition” to “allow a new generation of leadership to step forward.” Some members of the caucus ran for their seats promising to oppose Pelosi as speaker.
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Hours before the vote, Pelosi did reach an agreement to win the support of members of the so-called “Problem Solvers” caucus, a moderate group which is led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.).
Democrats likely will have garnered 40 seats by the time that all of the midterm results are certified. On Wednesday, Democrat T.J. Cox expanded his lead over Republican incumbent David Valadao in a California congressional seat. Some media outlets initially called the race for Valadao, but that narrowed as remaining ballots were counted in recent weeks.
If Cox prevails, Democrats will have 235 seats in the next Congress and Republicans will have 200.
Pelosi served as speaker from 2007 to 2011, but remained as the top Democrat in the House since then. In the election for speaker in January, all of the Republicans in the House are expected to back a member of their own party, likely House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).