Democrat who opposed Nancy Pelosi for House speaker could choose her after all

Another Democratic lawmaker who vowed not to support Nancy Pelosi for House speaker is softening his position.

Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., was one of the 16 incumbent and incoming House Democrats who signed onto a letter last week opposing Pelosi for the leadership position. But he appeared to reverse course after telling a local television station over the weekend that if it’s a choice between her and a Republican, he would back his California colleague, Politico reported.

“If it becomes as a choice between a Republican and Nancy Pelosi, I’ll obviously support Nancy Pelosi,” Lynch told WCVB-TV. “But I do think we risk losing the majority in the House – and we risk having [President] Trump elected for another four years – if the Democrats don’t offer a new direction for the Democratic Party.”

For Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., if the choice for House Speaker comes down to just a Republican and Nancy Pelosi, he’ll support the California Democrat despite previously signing onto a letter calling for “new leadership.”

For Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., if the choice for House Speaker comes down to just a Republican and Nancy Pelosi, he’ll support the California Democrat despite previously signing onto a letter calling for “new leadership.” (Facebook)

Last week, Rep. Brian Higgins, D-N.Y., said he changed his mind regarding his opposition to Pelosi after she promised to tackle a major infrastructure bill in the upcoming session of Congress and work with him on lowering the age of the Medicare buy-in.

“Some will ask why I have changed my position. The answer is simple: I took a principled stand on issues of vital importance not only to my constituents in Western New York but also to more than 300 million Americans whose lives can be improved by progress in these areas,” Higgins said in a statement. “A principled stand, however, often requires a pragmatic outlook in order to meet with success.”

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Higgins had signed onto the letter calling for “new leadership.” But he told The Buffalo News Democrats “don’t even have a semblance of a viable alternative at this point” when it comes to who will hold the gavel in the upcoming Congress.

Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California became the first female House Speaker when she was elected in 2007.

Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California became the first female House Speaker when she was elected in 2007. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Pelosi, who was the first female House speaker before Republicans gained the majority, first needs to pick up a majority of the Democratic Caucus in internal leadership elections, then go on to win an “absolute majority” of votes cast on the House floor. If just 17 Democrats vote against Pelosi on the floor, she would not have the votes – at least from her party – to secure the leadership post.

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Aside from Higgins and Lynch, the letter was signed by: Jim Cooper of Tennessee; Bill Foster of Illinois; Seth Moulton of Massachusetts; Ed Perlmutter of Colorado; Kathleen Rice of New York; Tim Ryan of Ohio; Linda Sanchez of California; Kurt Schrader of Oregon and Filemon Vela of Texas. Incoming freshmen who signed the letter were: Joe Cunningham of South Carolina; Max Rose from New York; Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey; Anthony Brindisi of New York and Ben McAdams of Utah.

Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge was considering a bid to challenge Pelosi for the job, but she ultimately decided to back her California colleague. Pelosi named Fudge the incoming chairman of a revived elections subcommittee.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.