Nancy Pelosi’s election as House Speaker is in doubt because of the pandemic

Nancy Pelosi’s supporters were sure that she would easily win reelection to her position as Speaker of the House.

Now it appears that she’ll need to successfully perform a “high wire act” to pull it off. 

Pelosi herself claims to have the needed votes – Democrats lead Republicans 222-211 with one seat undecided, and one seat vacant due to the death of incoming congressman Luke Letlow, a Republican. But that assumes that all the Democrats will be there, and that they’ll all vote for Pelosi.

As the AP noted: “The full House elects the speaker, and Democrats will have the chamber’s smallest majority in 20 years in a vote in which Republicans are certain to vote unanimously against her, joined by Democratic defectors….’It’s extraordinarily tricky’ for Pelosi, said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., an 18-year congressional veteran. Still, he said, he expects her to prevail ‘because I don’t see what the alternative is’ for Democrats.”

Those words seem to indicate a really volatile situation for Pelosi. How many times has “the alternative” become clear if the initial voting fails to produce a conclusive result?

The AP again:

But at 80, about the same age as her top two lieutenants, Pelosi remains a source of frustration for younger Democrats eager to climb the leadership chain. Discontent and division have grown after expected gains in last month’s elections evaporated and 12 Democrats lost House seats, prompting calls for fresh messengers in response to criticism that party leaders did a poor job of campaigning on the country’s deep economic problems.

No Democratic rival to Pelosi has emerged, greatly diminishing the odds she’ll be toppled. Perhaps unanimously, Republicans will back Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California for speaker, but he seems destined to become minority leader again.

Even so, Pelosi must minimize the number of Democrats opposing her.

Of 15 Democrats who bucked her when she was elected speaker in January 2019, three lost reelection last month. One is in a race where votes are still being counted and another became a Republican.

That leaves 10 Democrats who opposed her two years ago.

If all 211 Republicans vote against her, only six defectors would be required to unseat her. Wouldn’t that be a great way to usher in 2021?

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