U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton’s effort to keep Nancy Pelosi from becoming speaker when the Democrats take control of the House in January is in jeopardy.
The Salem Democrat was one of 16 Democrats who signed a letter two weeks ago which said it’s time for change when their party takes the reins in the House.
But on Monday, Moulton, who declined a request for an interview through a spokesman, would not concede defeat.
“Leader Pelosi wants to boil this down to a personal argument, but this is so much bigger than her,” Moulton said in a statement. “It’s about the entire, stagnant, three-person leadership team and having a serious conversation about promoting leaders who reflect the future of our caucus.”
Pelosi, a California Democrat who served as speaker from 2007 to 2011, has pushed through much of the opposition. Opponents, including Reps. Marcia Fudge of Ohio and Brian Higgins of New York, now say they plan to support her.
On Monday, U.S. Rep.-elect Ayanna Pressley said she’s backing Pelosi in her bid to reclaim the title when Congress reconvenes in January.
Pelosi remains the only announced candidate for the top job.
But one House aide said privately Pelosi lacks the votes and is unlikely to get them because there are enough freshmen and incumbents whose political interest is to oppose her on the floor.
Moulton’s letter signers hoped to create the opportunity for other candidates to run for Speaker, the aide said. But now it looks as if it will take a failed floor vote for others to announce. “Regardless of who’s on the letter, the number of freshmen who need to vote against her is at least 11,” the aide said. “Additional freshmen made a campaign promise to vote against her, but we’re subtracting the ones who think they can get away with breaking that promise now. In addition, there are several incumbents who have never supported her or insist on voting against her on the floor no matter what.”
A spokesman for Moulton said Pelosi has not reached out for a meeting with the congressman.