OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
Rumors continue to swirl that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is “expected” to retire or “step back” after November’s midterm elections.
A new report reveals that California Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff is positioning himself as heir to Pelosi’s speakership if she chooses to retire after Republicans likely win back the House. Pelosi, for her part, has announced that she will seek re-election in November.
The Washington Post reports that Schiff’s efforts have “focused on consolidating support among his home base” in California, but that he “has not made an explicit ask for endorsements.”
Instead, the Post says Schiff “is gauging members’ interest and planting the seed that leading the caucus is his goal.”
The outlet adds that Schiff has reached out to progressive and minority-led congressional groups but that the response to some of that outreach has been “tepid.”
Other Democrats reportedly gunning to lead the House Democratic Caucus if Pelosi steps back include Democrat Reps. Steny Hoyer, James Clyburn, and Hakeem Jeffries.
A report from CNN, titled, “Pelosi won’t say if she wants to stay in charge. But will House Democrats let her?” suggests that Pelosi may be pushed out.
In interviews with more than two dozen House Democrats, a consensus is emerging: If they lose the majority, there would be overwhelming pressure for Pelosi to go, a prospect that Democratic sources say the powerful House speaker is keenly aware of.
But with polls and fresh momentum giving House Democrats some sparks of optimism about the midterm elections, multiple members say they are also starting to see how, if they do hold control, it could lead to Pelosi extending her time in power. Yet Democrats are split about that possibility, with a sizable contingent eager for new leadership regardless of the outcome, even if she’d be the heavy favorite to hold onto the gavel.
Several Democrats told CNN that they believe it’s time for new leadership no matter what happens in November’s midterm elections.
“It’s time for generational diversity of our leadership ranks — regardless of the outcome of the election. That doesn’t change my perspective that it’s time for a new generation,” said Minnesota Democrat Rep. Dean Phillips.
Privately, some Democrats spoke more freely about wanting Pelosi to go.
“She has to go,” one senior Democrat said.
“No way she can stay,” added another long-time House Democrat.
“I certainly have long thought it’s time for new leadership. She’s done an incredible job, but we really do need to grow new leaders. When you have the top three people in our caucus in their 80s. … There does need to be a new generation coming up and starting to lead. And that’s something that I think the Democratic Party shouldn’t be afraid of,” said New Jersey Democrat Rep. Mikie Sherrill
New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said she hopes to see a change in the leadership after the midterms.
“I think if we’re in a minority then I think that the desire for change will be broader, potentially within the party. But I think that desire exists,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “We saw and heard that desire in the last two terms that Democrats were the majority, so it really is just a question of, not if people want that, but how many?”
Last year, Fox News host Maria Bartiromo reported that Pelosi may be planning to step down.
During a segment on Fox, Bartiromo said that sources had told her that Pelosi is stepping down after Democrats pass Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda.
“First, this morning is exclusive, sources tell Sunday Morning Futures there is speculation swirling in Washington that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may step down after getting the massive spending package through,” she said.
“So all those Democrat members who had their arms twisted to vote on the multitrillion-dollar package and put their own reelection in jeopardy may be fuming to learn that the speaker could be planning a cut and run,” she added.