House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D’Alesandro PelosiPelosi: Jim Jordan ‘should have known’ about OSU abuse Dems introduce bill to eliminate ICE, shift duties elsewhere Ohio Dem won’t back Pelosi if elected MORE (D-Calif.) announced Friday that the Democrats’ 2019 leadership races will take place after Thanksgiving, allowing a long window for the dust to settle after midterm elections that could dramatically reconfigure the top of the party next year.
The move takes a lesson from the leadership debate that occurred after the 2016 cycle, when the Democrats were shell-shocked by the ascension of President TrumpDonald John TrumpGiuliani: Trump interview with Mueller ‘further away’ ACLU calls for Trump officials to hand over info on immigrant children Kushner to join Pompeo for meetings with Mexican leaders MORE and left stunned that the big gains they’d expected in the House and Senate didn’t materialize.
Amid the turmoil, newer lawmakers clamored for more power and voice within the caucus.
Pelosi and her top lieutenants — Reps. Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerThe Hill’s Morning Report — Trump denigrates NATO allies, floats 4 percent solution Dems struggle with unity amid leadership tensions Fifth-ranking House Dem doubles down, says it’s time to overhaul leadership MORE (Md.) and James Clyburn (S.C.) — had left the party for the last 12 years. Pelosi also faced a rare challenge to her long leadership reign from Ohio Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) John RyanDems struggle with unity amid leadership tensions New Dem star to rattle DC establishment Dem rep: Crowley loss forced reevaluation of party leadership MORE. Pelosi won easily, though Ryan’s 63 votes were a sign of growing unrest.
That combination of factors led Pelosi to delay those leadership races to allow an internal debate about the party’s strategic path forward.
Anticipating a similar debate this year — as well as a big increase in Democratic seats — Pelosi wants the leadership elections to take place after Thanksgiving, which falls on Nov. 22.
“If the elections were held today, we would win many new seats, putting us into the majority. This would mean more leadership positions, more committee assignments and a large freshman class,” Pelosi wrote Friday in a letter to her troops.
“In that vein, I believe it is important that we follow the schedule for leadership elections that the caucus set last cycle, allowing additional time for freshmen to get oriented. My recommendation to the caucus would be to set leadership elections sometime after Thanksgiving, at a date to be determined by the caucus.”
The letter arrives as the debate over Democratic leadership is heating up following last month’s shocking primary defeat of Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.), the caucus chairman, to a young liberal activist with no political experience.
Crowley was viewed by many Democrats as the successor to Pelosi at the top of the party, and his surprise loss has reinvigorated the discussion about how the party can best win back the House in November — and who should lead it into a crucial 2020 presidential cycle.
The common sentiment remains that the outcome of the midterm elections will be the single largest factor shaping the party’s leadership slate next year.
“Until the day after the election, all of the discussion is for naught,” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.). “After the election, every phone call that can possibly be made within a 24 hour period will be made.”
The House is scheduled to be in Washington for four weeks after the Nov. 6 elections — one week before Thanksgiving and three weeks afterwards. The session is slated to end on Dec. 13.