November 16th, 2010
09:03 PM ET
12 years ago

Pelosi gets an earful from fellow Democrats

Washington (CNN) - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and rank-and-file House Democrats met for the first time Tuesday since suffering huge losses two weeks ago.

According to members in the closed-door meeting, several defeated Democrats blamed Pelosi for their losses and suggested she step aside as leader.

The meeting lasted for more than four hours and came on the eve of the House Democrats' leadership elections.

The members who urged Pelosi to step down included Reps. Allen Boyd of Florida and Travis Childers of Mississippi, both of whom lost their re-election bids.

Pelosi did not seem rattled by the criticism, telling reporters after the meeting that it was "wonderful."

Several Democrats also said the overwhelming majority of Pelosi's colleagues spoke in favor of her tenure, praising her for passage of landmark health care legislation and citing it as their greatest accomplishment.

Ohio freshman Democrat Rep John Boccieri, who also lost his election, told CNN he thought Democratic losses were more about the economy than about Pelosi.

"Folks are still unhappy and uneasy about the economic anxiety out there and they are going to take it out on the people in charge," Boccieri said.

Boyd and Childers, both defeated members of the conservative Blue Dog Coalition, will not have the opportunity to vote in Wednesday's party leadership election. But fellow Blue Dog member Heath Shuler of North Carolina said he will run against Pelosi for the top job.

Schuler made his challenge official Tuesday, following through on his pledge to run for minority leader if Pelosi refused to relinquish the leadership position.

"We should be going in a different direction.," Shuler said.

Even though he admitted he doesn't have the votes to win, Shuler said his challenge to Pelosi is meant to send a message that Democrats need moderates to rebuild the party.

"We have to be able to recruit in moderate districts to win back the House and that's where we have to be successful in order to win in 2012," Shuler said.

Democrats were allowed the chance to talk openly about the recent election after Rep. David Wu of Oregon offered a motion to allow everyone five minutes to speak.

Some Democrats, assuming Pelosi will win the leadership election Wednesday, are exploring the idea of trimming her influence within the caucus.

One proposal would rescind the top party leader's ability to appoint chairs of key committees, namely the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), which coordinates the re-election efforts of House Democrats, and the Steering Committee, which assigns committee assignments. Backers of the proposal insist these jobs should be elected positions.

"It is basically diluting the power at the very top, making sure people from places like Oklahoma have a say in the Democratic party," said Rep. Dan Boren, a moderate Democrat from Oklahoma. "We are tired of just the left and right coasts controlling the caucus. It is time for us to come together and have a centrist message."

Pelosi and her allies, though, believe that despite the loss of more than 60 seats, she is the right person to again lead them to victory.

"She took over a caucus that had lost five consecutive elections at a time when people thought we'd never win again. She brought us two victories," Rep. Rob Andrews of New Jersey said of the 2006 and 2008 elections. "There is a broad consensus that she is the person to unify us and build a consensus and bring us back."

Filed under: Democrats • Nancy Pelosi
soundoff (90 Responses)
  1. charles

    democrats lost because they allianeted their base. Republicans won not because they were many, but they stood on what they believed in no matter what contrary to their fellow democrats. Dont blame pelosi, just blame your fellow democrats who veered off the democratic princimples for the sake bi partisanship. Where are the so called " red and blue" democrats. No more. Shame up you.

    November 17, 2010 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  2. Larrry

    I truly believe there were people who voted Republican just to get rid of Pelosi. She has been the spoiled rich girl who was just looking to get her name in the record books. Totally at the publics expense.

    November 17, 2010 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  3. citizen234

    true to form,democrats just dont care who they screw.

    November 17, 2010 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  4. King

    Hey these blue dogs that are complaining might as well switch to repugs because they don't have no moderate any more. We are too far right as it is. The shock of the whipping the dems got from the American people has the whole world in turmoil. We owns almost half the worlds economy when these lunatic repugs took over swearing to cut every thing that don't move. The world economy shuts down because now big mamma wont buy stuff from them no more so where are they going to get a customer as humongus as America from on the planet. It going to cause a chain retain that rivals the great recession that the repugs claim didn't happens and that Obama wasn't spending because of emergency reasons.

    November 17, 2010 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  5. SethC

    Pelosi should step down, she has ruled with an iron fist and that is not how you treat the people of congress, or the people of the USA, she is obama's right hand that rules.

    November 17, 2010 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  6. Jesus was a Liberal

    Nancy Pelosi has more BALLS than every Democrat except Hillary Cliinton (LOL) but I mean that! Most of us Dems are sick of the kumbaya shenanigans. It's HIGH TIME that we become fired up!

    November 17, 2010 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  7. Dan

    The election results had very little to do with "the economy" and had almost everything to do with the "Obama/Pelosi agenda". If the Democrats don't get that, then they will take another shellacking in 2012. I live in a blue state that swung hugely red in the 2010 elections, electing a Republican governor, a Republican Senator, and the state legislature is now solidly Republican as well. The common theme was a rejection of everything that Pelosi and Obama have "accomplished". The Democrats are in denial if they think they can carry on with business as usual.

    November 17, 2010 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  8. Big Dave

    This lady is such and arrogant leftwing elitist she can't fathom the idea of stepping down, even after a 60 seat loss. Time for Nancy to retire and have some time to play with the grandkids.

    November 17, 2010 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  9. doolindalton

    Congressman Shuler,

    Define a moderate. Okay, you can't. You couldn't lead the Redskins much less the House. But I will let you know that President Nixon first proposed health care reform in 1974, along with employer mandated health insurance, began the EPA, allowed 18 year-olds to vote, proposed substantial reduction in nuclear arms and opened up relations with China. Sound like another President we know? And that's the point, President Obama has proposed what would historically be considered "moderate" policies which Speak Pelosi has attempted to get passed. Now you're trying to let the extreme rightward swing of the party of no dictate the policies Pelosi and Obama should follow. Stop it. Your political survival is of little consequence. The survival of this country is.

    November 17, 2010 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  10. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    If you lost your election, more than likely it's because you didn't stand by your values. Don't blame Speaker Pelosi for you failures. She did her job! Did you do yours? Democrats, we passed healthcare reform and none of you spineless bastards campaigned on it. You lost because you didn;t have any cojones.

    November 17, 2010 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  11. Darb Pa

    Please, for the love of your party and your country, step down Nancy Pelosi... Sure you may have brought big gains to the Decmocratic house in 2006 and 2008 but if you can't tell how badly you are villified by the American public you need to step out of your Washington Bubble.

    November 17, 2010 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  12. JohnF

    The Democratic losses are the result of intensive efforts on the part of the opposition to use every means necessary (ethical and otherwise) to regain their power. A large part of this depends on the bias of the Australian Rupert Murdoch and all of his media outlets, including Fox.

    November 17, 2010 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  13. mobrule

    I'm sure she's very nice once you get to know her...

    November 17, 2010 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  14. Media watchdog

    This is a perfect example of how the "mainstream media" weaves its Conservative bias into the news. The meeting was overwhelmingly positive toward Pelosi. She's done a remarkable job – more than nearly any other House Speaker of any party in history.

    November 17, 2010 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  15. steven harnack

    If they had backed Pelosi when she needed them they might still have their jobs. Sounds pretty silly to me for them to blame someone who is still there as the reason they aren't. Perhaps she did something right and they screwed up, eh?

    November 17, 2010 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
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