Pelosi boxes in her bush-league foes, one strategic step at a time
Things are not going well for the leaders of the #FiveWhiteGuys uprising who oppose Nancy Pelosi as speaker. Pelosi, a master tactician who has faced down far more masterful foes, is zeroing in on strategic missteps of conservative Reps. Tim Ryan of Ohio and Seth Moulton of Massachusetts one by one and pouncing.
First, the insurgents—relative conservatives now well to the right of the Democratic caucus as a whole—tried to drive a wedge between Pelosi and her left flank. Pelosi responded first by sidling up to incoming New York representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with support for reinstating a select committee on the climate-change crisis. (In recent days, Ocasio-Cortez has been expressing skepticism about the coup’s lack of vision, common values, and shared goals.) Pelosi then reeled in endorsements from returning liberal members like Reps. Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Maxine Waters of California along with progressive groups such as MoveOn, Indivisible, and Daily Kos. At the same time, some incoming members like New Jersey’s Mikie Sherrill who had been critical of Pelosi on the campaign trail grew silent—a sign that the tide was starting to turn.
This week, Pelosi moved on to exploiting fissures within her supposed unified opposition by capitalizing on their biggest tactical error to date—floating the name of a potential prospect to run against Pelosi for speaker who actually wasn’t that invested in getting the job. Apparently, Moulton and Ryan jumped the gun on pushing forward Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge, a woman of color, as their answer to Pelosi because they were getting a little touchy about primarily being a rebellion of white guys. Fudge was an easy get for Pelosi, partly because she wasn’t a great fit for the increasingly liberal caucus and she came with some baggage.
After Pelosi sat down with Fudge and they discussed what the job entailed, Fudge expressed reservations about making such a commitment (“It’s a lot to travel every single weekend. It’s a lot to do all the fundraising.”) Then Pelosi moved on to figuring out what Fudge really wanted—which clearly wasn’t the speakership—and gave it to her in exchange for her support. Pelosi vowed to re-up the Subcommittee on Elections and named Fudge chair of it. In a statement helpfully circulated by Pelosi herself, Fudge said Pelosi was committed to protecting and improving the Voting Rights Act and had assured Fudge that “the most loyal voting bloc in the Democratic party, Black Women, will have a seat at the decision-making table.”