Democratic leadership is supporting former federal prosecutor Conor Lamb in a March special election to replace Tim Murphy in Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district, but Conor Lamb doesn’t support Democratic leadership.
Lamb told the Pittsburg Post-Gazette that if elected, he’ll work to replace House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who has come under increased attacks from members of her own party in recent months.
“I think it’s clear that this Congress is not working for people,” Lamb told the news site. “I think we need new leadership on both sides.”
Lamb, who will square off against Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone March 13, insists his desire to replace Pelosi “is not personal,” but rather a matter of getting things done.
“It’s more about the fact that I expect leaders to get results,” he said, “and the result of our Congressional leadership has been to have people in the district dissatisfied with their performance.”
Many political pundits are watching the Pennsylvania contest closely as a bellwether for the midterm elections, and Lamb’s comments beg the question: Will Democrats campaign against Pelosi in 2018?
Lamb acknowledged that the 77-year-old career politician from San Francisco raises a lot of money for the party, but said “I don’t think that changes the fact that people are ready for a new day.”
Lamb is only the latest Democrat to talk town the party’s aging House leader.
In October, Ohio Rep Tim Ryan, who most recently challenged Pelosi for House Minority Leader, told Fox & Friends that Pelosi needs to go.
“I’ve been very, very clear with where I stood over a year ago in my own race for House leadership, but I do think we need to continue to get young voices out there,” Ryan said. “We’re doing it more and more now, and I think it’s appropriate for us to encourage young people to run for leadership positions and run for the Senate, and governor positions.”
“We need new young leaders in the Democratic Party if we’re going to be able to make back some of the losses we’ve had over the last 8 or 10 years,” he said.
Several Democrats also told The Washington Examiner this week that increasing numbers of rank-and-file members of the House are plotting to remove Pelosi, as well as Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland and Jim Clyburn, an assistant Democratic leader from South Carolina.
“Win or lose (the midterm elections) we have to have the change,” said Rep. Kathleen Rice of New York.
Democrats expect to retake the House in the 2018 midterms, and some contend Pelosi’s fate rides on the results.
“If we lose, everyone goes,” Ruben Gallego, an Arizona Democrat, told the Examiner.
Others who did not want to be identified for fear of political repercussions also confirmed that Pelosi is in a tight spot.
“People are saying if we lose, if there’s not a majority, then we’re cleaning house – like everybody,” one Democrat said.
Even Pelosi ally Rep. John Yarmuth, of Kentucky, thinks her time could soon be up if the party doesn’t secure a majority in the House during the midterm elections.
Rice pointed out that many Democratic candidates claim to be running specifically because of the party’s poor leadership. If Democrats take control of the house, that would mean two dozen or more new Democratic members, she said, “many of whom on the campaign trail have said they’re not going to vote for the present leadership and that’s why they’re running.”
MSNBC host Hallie Jackson last fall pointed to at least one Democratic candidate who plans to “run away” from Pelosi during the 2018 midterm elections. She asked NBC political reporter Alex Seitz-Wald “Do you think we will see more of that come 2018?”
“I do,” Seitz-Wald said. “Yeah, I mean, this was always something you heard in private, whispered behind the scenes from Democratic lawmakers, Democratic candidates, the elephant in the room, or maybe donkey in the room since we’re talking about Democrats here.
“But I do think the dam is kind of breaking here. You’re seeing more and more people, and more senior people, speaking out against” party leadership, he said.
A Democrat who did not want to be identified said Republicans are working to tie all Democratic candidates to Pelosi’s “San Francisco values,” and that alone is a good enough reason to show her the door.
“She has to know she’s an anchor around everyone’s neck,” the Democrat told the Examiner. “It’s political malpractice and the worst thing about it is she knows it.”
Pelosi, meanwhile, remains adamant she enjoys the support of the majority of the Democratic caucus. Her spokesman, Drew Hammill, said “this discussion by some members to further their individual political ambitions is not in furtherance of a Democratic majority.
“It is a complete distraction,” he said.