As Democrats celebrate victories in primaries and special elections nationwide — in areas Republicans have traditionally been victorious — the GOP is looking every which way to maintain control of Congress. One strategy the Republican Party employed is very telling of the state of the Democratic Party, though.
In Pennsylvania, Republicans connected House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to Conor Lamb, the moderate Democrat who won the U.S. House race in his state on Tuesday, to steer voters away from him.
Lamb, 33, said while campaigning that he would not vote for Pelosi, who turns 78 this month, to remain the Democratic Party’s leader. Republican ads claimed that Lamb, who served in the United States Marine Corps, would change his tune as soon as he won the race.
The fact that Republicans used Pelosi, who has an approval rating of 28.7 percent, as a con against someone representing the Democratic Party speaks volumes on her status in Washington. But Republicans are not the only ones tired of her. On the eve of the election Lamb said it’s time to replace Pelosi.
“I think it’s clear that this Congress is not working for people,” he said, according to the Post-Gazette. “I think we need new leadership on both sides.”
And earlier this week on MSNBC Lamb was asked, “When you arrive in Washington —assuming you win this election — do you think Nancy Pelosi should go?”
Lamb responded, “I have said that I think we need new leadership at the top of both parties in the House. So, I would like to see someone besides Nancy Pelosi run, and that’s who I would support.”
Lamb is hardly the only member of Pelosi’s party to say it’s time for her to go. Rep. Linda Sanchez, also of California, said in October the time has come to let the new generation take over.
“I do think we have this real breadth and depth of talent within our caucus and I do think it’s time to pass a torch to a new generation of leaders and I want to be a part of that transition,” she said on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers.” “I want to see that happen. I think we have too many great members here that don’t always get the opportunities that they should. I would like to see that change.”
Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) reignited calls for Pelosi to call it quits after she defended John Conyers, a former representative who was accused of sexual harassment against his female staffers.
“But my point is that my positions on party leadership are very clear,” he said on MSNBC in December. “And I’ve been calling for our leader to step down and allow a new generation of leaders to step up and lead our party forward for a long time. But what I don’t want to do is distract from the fact that this is a very serious issue.”
A Democratic source reported to Axios of Pelosi, “She used to be retributional. Now she’s more inclusive.”
Axios suggested that “Pelosi is more likely to be the bridge to a younger generation” when compared to one possible competitor, 78-year-old House Democrat Whip Steny Hoyer.
Pelosi tried to build a bridge to distance herself from Hoyer’s status as an old white man in January when she accused “five white guys” — including Hoyer — of trying to solve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) controversy.
“The ‘five white guys’ I call them, you know,” she said, adding, “Are they going to open a hamburger stand next or what?” (The comment was a reference to Five Guys, a popular burger joint.)
Perhaps Pelosi should stop pointing white fingers.
A look at her staff also tells a story. Pelosi has equal representation of men and women, but for staffers whose ethnicity could be determined, there is one Black person and one Latino (one staff member’s race could not be identified). If Pelosi wants to be a bridge, she should start paying more attention to who will be making decisions when she’s not around anymore — and who will decide her fate. Her district, California’s 12th Congressional District, is 52.8 percent white, 31 percent Asian, 15 percent Hispanic and 6.0 percent Black. And the NBC/GenForward survey indicates that minority millennials may be more politically active than their white counterparts — 17 percent of Asians, 15 percent of Blacks, 14 percent of Latinx and 13 percent of whites responded yes when asked if they have attended a political event, rally or organized protest since Trump’s election.
So who would Pelosi be a “bridge” to? A generation of up-and-coming voters who don’t believe the Democratic Party represents them.
According to a September poll from NBC News and GenForward, 42 percent of young adults have an unfavorable view of the Democratic Party — and only 43 percent have a favorable view. Forty-six percent of respondents said they don’t believe the Democratic Party cares about people like them.
And while young adults are still more likely to favor the Democratic Party over the GOP, Democrats do not have a very strong hold. The same survey asked if respondents planned to vote Democrat or Republican in the next election. The majority — 41 percent — said they were not sure. When asked which way they leaned toward, 57 percent said they were still not sure.