Rep. Marcia Fudge Emerges

Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH)

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 16, 2018 — While Republicans chose their leadership team yesterday with little in the way of surprise as California Rep. Kevin McCarthy was easily elected to lead the new GOP minority, the bigger news surrounds former Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) internal campaign to return to the House’s top post.

Also, yesterday the Huffington Post news website released the list of 17 Democrats, including five freshmen (one still in an uncalled race), who say they will not support Pelosi for Speaker.

The number is significant. If the House final party division margin breaks 233-202, the group, if they all follow through and don’t vote for Pelosi on the first roll call, would be enough to keep her from gaining majority support. Pelosi is still favored to become Speaker, but her road to the office is appearing a bit rockier than perceived immediately after the Democrats officially clinched the new House majority.

The obvious point in Pelosi’s favor is that she has no announced opposition. Some in the group of 17 say their position is stronger without an official candidate, but that reasoning likely comes to the forefront only because they don’t have a champion. But that could be changing.

One of the curious names within the group is veteran Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH). In an interview yesterday, Rep. Fudge, an important Congressional Black Caucus member, clearly indicated that she will not support Pelosi for Speaker, saying the people voted for change and re-electing the same Democratic leadership does not answer the electorate’s call.

Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), one of the group’s leaders, quickly said he would support Rep. Fudge if she decided to run for Speaker as did several others. This led the congresswoman to indicate that she would consider becoming a candidate.

The group of 17 insurgents even includes one Californian. Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Whittier) is one of the surprising members who signed on with the opposition group.

Until last week, Sanchez looked to be a candidate for one of the leadership offices but pulled away when her husband, James Sullivan, and four others were indicted for misusing federal funds in conjunction with a government grant involving the Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Corporation. Sullivan serves as chairman of the CMEEC Board of Directors.

The insurgent group also underscores Rep. Tim Ryan’s (D-OH) run against Pelosi for Minority Leader in the last Congress. He garnered 63 votes in the secret ballot Democratic conference vote, which was one-third of the entire group. This, they say, demonstrates that the conference is not united behind Pelosi and that a new leader needs to come forth.

Though the number of Ryan’s previous supporters was somewhat significant, they are nowhere near being strong enough to prevent the ex-Speaker from formally becoming the official Democratic candidate for the office once the 116th Congress convenes in January. Therefore, it will be difficult to keep the group together after the conference officially nominates Pelosi.

The group of 17 features the following returning members according to the Huffington Post (in the order that the Huffington Post released):

  • Tim Ryan (D-OH)
  • Seth Moulton (D-MA)
  • Kathleen Rice (D-NY)
  • Ed Perlmutter (D-CO)
  • Kurt Schrader (D-OR)
  • Filemon Vela (D-TX)
  • Marcia Fudge (D-OH)
  • Bill Foster (D-IL)
  • Brian Higgins (D-NY)
  • Stephen Lynch (D-MA)
  • Linda Sanchez (D-CA)
  • Jim Cooper (D-TN)

Additionally, these incoming freshmen have signed on:

  • Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ)
  • Joe Cunningham (D-SC)
  • Max Rose (D-NY)
  • Anthony Brindisi (D-NY)
  • Ben McAdams (D-UT)

The McAdams situation in Utah is changing. His race against Rep. Mia Love (R-Saratoga Springs) is not yet called with approximately 40,000 ballots still to count. Once leading by close to 9,000 votes, the McAdams lead has now dwindled to 1,229 at which point Love filed a lawsuit to stop further counting in order to verify that all of the mail ballots are from legally qualified voters. There is at least one projection model, based upon where the votes are coming from, that shows Love could still overtake McAdams.

There is also a likely recount and possible legal challenges awaiting Brindisi’s purported victory. Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) trails by 1,293 votes, and appears poised to officially challenge the results.

At the end of the process, Pelosi will likely have the votes to secure her first ballot victory on Jan. 3, but it appears the next several weeks could become quite interesting.

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