Government

Ryan, Dem Colleagues Urge New Caucus Leadership

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A group of 16 Democrats including U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan circulated a letter Monday urging “new leadership” for their caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Ryan, who challenged Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi following the 2016 presidential election, has talked for weeks abut his caucus needing new leadership as it prepares to assume the majority in the House and elect a new House speaker.

Ryan wasn’t available for comment Monday afternoon, according to a spokesman. Last week, he suggested U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-11 Ohio, as a potential candidate for House speaker. He called his fellow Ohioan an “experienced legislator [who] would be a transformational leader.”

So far in the midterm elections, Democrats have won 233 House seats, with a handful remaining to be called. Pelosi needs 218 votes to be elected speaker. She previously served as speaker from 2007 to 2011.

Caucus elections are set for Nov. 28, when Democrats will vote on a nominee for House speaker.

The letter, which was distributed to the House Democratic Caucus by U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice, D-4 N.Y., was signed by Ryan, Rice, nine of their returning colleagues, four incoming members and one candidate whose race hadn’t been called.

In it, the 16 members and members-elect thank Pelosi, who represents California’s 12th congressional district, for her years of service to the country and the Democratic caucus, and credited her as a “historic figure” – she is the first woman elected speaker – “whose leadership has been instrumental” to some of the party’s most important legislative achievements.

However, many Democrats “ran and won on a message of change,” and the new Democratic majority “came on the backs of candidates who said they would support new leadership because voters in hard-won districts, and across the country, want to see real change in Washington,” the letter states. 

“We promised to change the status quo and we intend to deliver on that promise.”

Winning Democrats in some races specifically stated they would not back Pelosi as speaker.

Ryan, once a Pelosi ally, argued over the past two years that Democrats need leadership that isn’t tied to the coasts,  someone who can campaign in districts that Democrats barely won two weeks ago, places where Pelosi – long a punching bag for Republicans – can’t go. 

Just before the election, someone identified as a “senior Democratic aide close to Pelosi” accused Ryan, who recently was pondering a second challenge to Pelosi, of exploiting his criticism of her for publicity leading to a potential presidential bid. 

The congressman retorted that he faced criticism from his Republican challenger this year for the time he spent in other states helping Democrats get elected.

Last week, Pelosi’s office released a list of more than 30 national labor and advocacy groups that endorsed her return as speaker. They included the AFL-CIO, United Farm Workers, American Federation of Teachers, United Steel Workers of America, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, League of Conservation Voters and MoveOn.

Critics fired back on Ryan’s Twitter feed, questioning why he was trying to help Republicans and accusing him of attempting “to stifle the progressive movement of the Democrats.”  Another said he was “admitting how disposable and interchangeable he thinks women are.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.