Government

Ryan Says He’s Within ‘Striking Distance’ of Pelosi

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio –With only a few hours remaining before the 194 Democrats in the next term of House of Representatives elect their leader, Tim Ryan could receive as many as 70 votes in his bid to unseat Nancy Pelosi as minority leader.  That number was reported late Tuesday by The Texas Tribune, which said Democrats supporting Ryan “will likely include some Texans who will remain silent about their secret-ballot vote.”

The newspaper quoted U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a sophomore member from El Paso, who has publicly endorsed Ryan, and reported O’Rourke’s assessment “[echoed] what other members of Congress familiar with the Ryan whip count told the Tribune.”

Meanwhile, a report posted late Tuesday on BuzzFeed, said while Ryan is likely to fall short of the 98 votes he needs, “more than a dozen” lawmakers are considering voting for the Mahoning Valley congressman even though they have told Pelosi they will back her. “

BuzzFeed quoted an unidentified member as saying, “I think the anybody-but-Pelosi sentiment is stronger than she thinks it is.”

The online publication also quoted “a senior Democratic aide” and Pelosi loyalist who said, “Candidates that rely on dozens upon dozens of double-crossers are called losing candidates.”

About a dozen House Democrats have publicly endorsed Ryan. Pelosi says she has the support of two thirds of the caucus, and has proposed structural changes in order to share power with younger members — presumably the base of Ryan’s support.

On Tuesday afternoon, during an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Ryan said he’s within “striking distance” of upsetting Nancy Pelosi.

Pressed to specify what “striking distance” means, Ryan laughed. “Part of the game, Wolf, is not to give away your numbers,” he said. “We’re keeping our numbers close. We’ve got a lot of commitments, more than people think, and I think there’s going to be a lot of surprises.”

The secret ballot, which Ryan said helps him “big time,” takes place this morning. Ryan and Pelosi each will have 11 minutes to make their case before the 194 Democrats who make up the caucus, says Michael Zetts, the congressman’s spokesman. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m.

“I think the race is going to be close,” Zetts said Tuesday afternoon. “The congressman has done a lot of work over the last couple of weeks. He’s talked to almost everybody in the caucus and he feels good.”

Zetts confirmed that among the House Democrats Ryan has spoken with is Steny Hoyer, the Democratic whip and second in command to Pelosi.

Ryan dropped Hoyer’s name Sunday during an interview on Fox News Sunday, citing the veteran Maryland congressman’s proposals to rejuvenate manufacturing as the type of policy agenda Democrats need to advance to regain the majority.

Hoyer, long a rival to Pelosi, is running unopposed for his leadership position.

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Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.