Democratic donors suggest they'd close their wallets if Nancy Pelosi doesn't reclaim speaker's gavel

"Would we have contributed anywhere near as much as we did if Nancy was not the Leader? We think not," they wrote

Published November 20, 2018 9:08PM (EST)

Nancy Pelosi (Getty/Alex Wong)
Nancy Pelosi (Getty/Alex Wong)

One day after a group of 16 Democratic politicians pledged to oppose Nancy Pelosi's bid to become the next speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, an equal number of donors released a letter to the lower chamber of Congress' Democratic caucus in support of its leader.

"Because of her diligence, her powers of persuasion, her enormous effectiveness and her adherence to our values, we have provided a portion of the financial resources required to be competitive cycle after cycle," the 16 Democratic donors wrote in their letter, which was shared with HuffPost.

"When it came to funding this recent effort to retake the Majority, would we have contributed anywhere near as much as we did if Nancy was not the Leader? We think not," they wrote.

In the letter, the donors warned that they may not be willing to contribute as many funds to Democrats if the next speaker is someone other than Pelosi.

"[W]e do believe the competence and effectiveness of the Leader is a critical component in motivating us to reach in our pockets. On that basis it is hard to imagine a replacement for Nancy engendering the same level of confidence at this critical time," the donors wrote. "Your recent success in winning the majority is only a first step in changing our country's direction. As critical as it was, the coming cycle is even more so."

Pelosi, the longtime California congresswoman, who made history in 2007 by becoming the first woman elected speaker of the House, is locked in a heated campaign to wield the speaker's gavel once again when her party takes back control of the House this January.

Pelosi needs to win a simple majority of support within the Democratic caucus to become its speaker nominee — a threshold that she is virtually assured to meet, since no one is currently formally challenging her. The caucus votes later this month on whom it wants to be its leader. If Pelosi prevails, she will then need a majority of the entire House chamber — 218 members, if everyone is present and voting — in January, when the full Congress votes.

Democrats are bound to vote for whomever clinches the caucus' nomination for speaker. This could create an out for anti-Pelosi newcomers, who can vote against her in caucus and later explain to their constituents that they were bound by caucus rules in the final floor vote. Some Democrats have previously called to increase the threshold for the caucus vote to 218 in order to align with broader House rules. Pelosi supporters argued against the "extraordinary" rule change in a letter last week.

The new Democratic majority in the House is expected to have 234 members, and on Monday, sixteen Democrats released a letter saying they intend to oppose Pelosi in a new call for leadership ― although two of the signers, Anthony Brindisi (N.Y.) and Ben McAdams (Utah) have yet to be declared winners of their races. Only two women, Kathleen Rice (N.Y.) and Linda Sánches (Calif.) were among the Pelosi dissenters. (Pelosi supporters recently argued that it is wrong to try to give the boot to the highest-ranking woman in Congress in a year that saw a record number of women vying for political office and winning.)

The current anti-Pelosi rebellion is being led by Reps. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts and Filemon Vela of Texas. The pair of returning Democrats is continuing a previous effort to block Pelosi from reclaiming the speakership, and they have suggested they have enough support to cause a major leadership shake-up within. Moulton previously told reporters that he was "100 percent confident" that the contingent of Democratic lawmakers trying to block Pelosi's election as speaker had the votes to do so. Moulton, meanwhile, has faced his own revolt over his decision to oppose Pelosi.

Pelosi, for her part, has expressed confidence that she would garner the necessary support to reclaim the speaker's gavel.

By Shira Tarlo

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