Rep.-elect Abigail Spanberger of Virginia said Friday she would vote against House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi on the floor of the House, marking at least 18 Democrats who have publicly and recently committed to opposing the California lawmaker’s bid to return to being House speaker.
Spanberger, who won an upset House race unseating incumbent conservative Rep. Dave Brat, was among a half dozen Democratic lawmakers who met with Pelosi on Friday and who have either criticized her or called for new leadership as the party retakes the majority in the US House of Representatives.
Democrats will meet the week after Thanksgiving to pick their next leaders, but there will still need to be floor vote once the new Congress is sworn in in January. How many members choose to vote “present” as opposed to for a specific candidate could impact the majority threshold and Pelosi could win with fewer than 218 votes on the floor.
Spanberger, who consistently distanced herself from Pelosi on the campaign trail, told reporters that, despite her opposition, she would not sign an anti-Pelosi letter signed by 17 Democrats who have vowed to vote against her. She said she’s not signing onto to “any letter.”
“I’ve been very clear about my position and that remains the same,” she said. “I will be voting but I will not be voting for her.”
She did say she had a “wonderful” discussion with Pelosi about the needs of her district.
In an interview on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper,” Spanberger said later Friday she had “tremendous respect” for Pelosi and said her opposition is about a need for “new voices in Congress.”
“Nothing is wrong with Nancy Pelosi,” Spanberger told Tapper. “Nancy Pelosi’s done tremendous things for this country as speaker, as minority leader, and I have tremendous respect for her. Among the reasons that there are so many women entering Congress now is because she’s paved the way for us. But one of the things that I talked about frequently on the campaign trail was the need to have new voices in Congress, the need to turn a new page in the way we engage across the aisle, and really to be able to work on the priorities that were most important to the people in my district.”
Separately, a “Dear Colleague” letter passed around by members of the House Democratic caucus dissatisfied with Pelosi says “we believe more strongly than ever that the time has come for new leadership in our Caucus,” according to a copy obtained by CNN.
Pelosi has enjoyed support from many members of her caucus and prominent Democrats throughout the week have urged the party’s House members to back her. Another letter that’s being circulated on Capitol Hill on Friday revealed multiple incoming freshmen — who were largely noncommittal on the House speaker race during their campaigns — will in fact support Pelosi. The letter, obtained by CNN, is still being circulated and so far includes 61 signatures from women incumbents and members-elect.