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Nancy Pelosi says she welcomes potential challenge from Rep. Marcia Fudge

November 15, 2018

Nancy Pelosi says she welcomes potential challenge from Rep. Marcia Fudge

WASHINGTON, D.C. - California’s Nancy Pelosi told reporters on Thursday that she has enough votes from her fellow Democrats to be elected Speaker of the House and said she’d welcome a challenge from Warrensville Heights Democratic Rep. Marcia Fudge, who is considering a run.

“I say it to everybody, come on in, the water’s warm,” Pelosi said when asked about Fudge’s potential challenge.

She also told reporters that she intends to win the speakership with Democratic votes when the legislative body selects new leaders in January, declaring the electoral wave that returned her party to power “almost a tsunami.”

“I have overwhelming support in my caucus to be Speaker of the House,” said Pelosi. “Certainly, we have many, many people in our caucus who could serve in that capacity. I happen to think at this point that I am the best person for that.”

Pelosi’s desire to return to the speakership she held from 2007 through 2011 is complicated by opposition from a group of 17 Democrats who say Pelosi does not actually have the 218 votes she’ll need to become Speaker, between opposition from Democratic incumbents and newly elected freshmen who told constituents they wouldn’t vote for her.

The group includes Fudge and Niles-area Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan, who argue Pelosi’s brand has become a liability after more than a decade of being demonized by Republicans. Ryan ran against Pelosi for Democratic leader two years ago, losing by a 134 to 63 margin.

They have been seeking an alternative candidate to run against Pelosi. Fudge, a former Congressional Black Caucus chair who also chaired the 2016 Democratic Convention, said Wednesday that colleagues have asked her to run against Pelosi for the top House of Representatives job and she’s considering it.

“I need to give it some thought and see if I have an interest,” Fudge told cleveland.com on Wednesday. “I am at the very beginning of this process. It is just in discussion at this point.”

Congress needs a new leader. Period. I’m hoping Marcia Fudge, my first (and arguably best) mentor in Congress will run for the next Speaker of the House. I have full faith in her ability to lead our new Congress to its fullest potential.— Seth Moulton (@sethmoulton) November 15, 2018

Fudge, 66, said voters backed Democrats because they wanted change, and Pelosi doesn’t represent that. The former Warrensville Heights mayor is also dismayed that neither of the party’s two top leaders, Pelosi and Maryland’s Steny Hoyer, is a minority, and said an African American woman should be in leadership.

“When you look at the people who support this party the most, they are women and African Americans and especially African American women,” said Fudge, who has served in Congress since 2008. “We keep talking about diversity, but there is nothing diverse about the top of our ticket. We have to not just talk the talk, but walk the walk.”

As news of her interest in the job spread, Fudge shared her views with other media outlets. She told Huffington Post that people see Pelosi as an “elitist” because she’s wealthy and raises money from other wealthy people. She also said she didn’t co-sponsor a bill to extend civil rights protections to people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity because she disagrees with its mechanism of using the Civil Rights act to do so.

“If it were a standalone, I’d vote for it today,” Fudge told the publication, defending her record on LGBTQ rights. “The president of the United States is a racist, in my opinion. If we open up the Civil Rights Act, it’s like opening up Pandora’s Box.”

She told The Washington Post that she’s been “overwhelmed” by support for her potential run for Speaker, and there are”probably closer to 30″ Democrats who oppose Pelosi. She also said she hopes to quickly make a decision on a run.

“I won’t give myself a hard Friday deadline, but it’ll be close to that,” Fudge told the Post “Or, I’ll go home for Thanksgiving and talk to my family.”

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