By Jim Ellis
Jan. 4, 2019 — California US Rep. Nancy Pelosi was returned to the Speaker’s office yesterday in a carefully orchestrated vote that allowed her to claim the gavel by a two-vote margin, while simultaneously allowing several incoming Democratic members to keep their campaign pledge to not support the returning national political leader. Pelosi received 220 votes from her conference, two more than the minimum majority figure of 218.
Fifteen Democrats voted for someone other than Pelosi in the Speaker’s roll call or answered “present.” Freshman Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ) simply voted “no” when his name was called but was recorded as voting present.
Not all of the Pelosi dissenters were freshman. Of the 15, veteran Reps. Jim Cooper (D-TN), Ron Kind (D-WI), Kathleen Rice (D-NY), and Kurt Schrader (D-OR) voted differently.
Cooper voted present. Rep. Kind supported Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), taking a page from Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s (D-AZ) political book when she was in the House. During her three terms, Sinema voted for Rep. Lewis for Speaker to honor his civil rights career. Rep. Rice, an outspoken critic of Speaker Pelosi, voted for Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. Schrader voted for Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Cleveland). Just after the November election, Rep. Fudge briefly considered the idea of running for Speaker.