House Democrats, concerned over the fate of their party as they continue struggling to win elections, are increasingly focusing their anger on House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
It's emerged that twelve Democrats met Thursday to consider a coup against the 78-year-old California Democrat.
Pelosi, for her part, is aggressively defending herself, labeling herself a "master legislator" whose benefit to the party outweighs the costs. She's even instructed her staff to send her political allies "suggested tweets" to post on her behalf of her leadership.
"There’s no question she is is a prolific fund-raiser that raised millions and millions of dollars, but what has that money gotten us in the last four election cycles?” one of the Democrats who participated in Thursday's closed-door meeting, Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas), told CNN Friday. "The fact is, when you take a look at the last four election cycles, all that money has been for naught.”
Asked if he's concerned about possible retribution, Vela said no.
"I’m not afraid of retribution," he said. "My point is very simple and that is, as we move forward to the 2018 elections, we want to regain the majority, especially in light of the Trump presidency. Our best shot at that is to win swing districts, and I just think that at the end of the day, Leader Pelosi just doesn’t help our candidates in those swing districts with independent voters and Republican voters whom I think given the trump policies will be able to swing our way.”
The chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Cedric Richmond, even declined to offer his support for Pelosi's leadership. Asked repeatedly on MSNBC Friday morning whether she should stay on as leader, Richmond ducked the question, instead saying he will support whatever decision the CBC makes.
New York Congresswoman Kathleen Rice likewise added her name to the list of Democrats openly calling on Pelosi to rethink her role.
"This is not personal — anything personal between me and Nancy Pelosi," Rice told CNN. "I have enormous respect for her. She has been a great leader. But like every leader, in time immemorial, it’s time for people to know when to go. And sometimes it’s hard to get people who are in power, who are used to that, to say, you know what, I need to step back and do what’s best for this party. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi believes that she is the one that can lead this party. I happen to have a different opinion. And I think it’s important for people in my position to not be afraid, to speak truth to power. "
Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) said Democrats' brand under Pelosi has become "toxic" and warned they're less popular than their foe, President Trump.
"The honest answer is in some areas of the country, yes, she is," more toxic than Trump, Ryan said. "That’s the honest answer."
Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) likewise took to national TV to tell Pelosi it's time to go.
"Everyone talks about how old and distinguished our party leadership is," Moulton said. "These are very accomplished politicians, they’re good at what they do, but I think it’s time for a change and these election results show that.”