Pelosi could pick up Republican support in quest for speaker’s gavel

As Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., faces a tricky climb to build the support from her own party for her retake the gavel in January, she’s getting an unlikely source of support: Republicans.

Pelosi has repeatedly said that she is confident she has the votes to become speaker -- a position she held between 2007 and 2011, the last time Democrats held the majority in the House. But she is facing a brewing revolt from her own members, with a number of Democrats signing a letter pledging not to support her.

Fox News confirmed Thursday that at least 17 House Democrats, including incumbents and incoming members, have signed on to a document saying they will not support Pelosi on the House floor for speaker. A Democrat familiar with the effort says they are trying to add more names before the letter is publicly released.

If all those Democrats vote against Pelosi on the floor, Pelosi would not have the votes for speaker. To get the gavel, Pelosi will first need to pick up a majority of the Democratic caucus in internal leadership elections, then go on to win an absolute majority of the House.


But as she faces an increasingly tight race, a number of Republicans are floating the idea of offering her support in the House -- thinking that it would help them in the long term.

President Trump tweeted after the midterms that if she struggled, “perhaps we will add some Republican votes” although it was not clear if this remark was serious or tongue-in-cheek.

On Thursday, Republican Tom Reed said that if Pelosi embraced a bipartisan package of rules reforms that would make it easier for members to get legislation to the floor, he could envision supporting her.

“A Democratic candidate who embraces these rules reforms, I will stand with,” he told CNN. “I am so frustrated with this institution being a top-down driven is time to change this and if Nancy Pelosi is the only one that’s there, I’m open to it.”

Reed did concede that there would be “significant backlash” from other Republicans. But other Republicans have also suggested backing her bid -- as it could help them in the long term.

"She reminds the American people why they don't like politics. She reminds them why they don't like Democrats, quite frankly," Republican strategist Chris Wilson said Friday on “Fox and Friends.” "The best thing in the world for Republicans is to have her in that role."

Citing Trump’s remarks last week, Wilson suggested that Republicans should back the California Democrat.

"Republicans are not going to have a speaker of the House. So why not try and ... put her back in that chair?" he asked.

Pelosi, at a press conference Thursday, she dismissed the idea that she would need Republican help to win the gavel.

"Oh please, never," she said. "Never, never, come on."

"I intend to win the speakership with Democratic votes," she later said, adding that she had "overwhelming support" in her caucus.

In 2016, Pelosi fended off a leadership challenge from Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio. During a recent appearance on Fox News’ “Cavuto,” Ryan said, “I don’t think this is a done deal yet” in terms of Pelosi becoming speaker again. Ryan also says he “hopes somebody does” challenge Pelosi.

On Friday, Pelosi met for 45 minutes with Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, who is mulling a prospective leadership challenge.

Other Democrats have been more supportive. House Progressive Caucus Chairwoman Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., told Fox News Friday that “she has the experience.”

“She’s someone who get things done. We don’t need someone with a learning curve,” she said, adding that “we need to deliver some real wins pretty quickly.”

Fox News’ Alex Pappas, Mike Emanuel and Chad Pergram contributed to this report.