There are now more than a dozen House Democrats – the list is at 14 and growing by the day – who want to fire Speaker Nancy Pelosi if their party somehow manages to keep its majority on Nov. 2.
Jason Altmire of Pennsylvania on Tuesday became the latest to decide that it was politically advantageous to jettison the first female House Speaker in history. It is becoming a trend, as vulnerable Democrats in conservative districts or tough races decide Pelosi’s San Francisco liberalism is too heavy of a weight to survive.
The vanguard of outright Pelosi opponents includes Jim Marshall of Georgia, who has even run TV ads against the Speaker, Gene Taylor of Mississippi, Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, Peter DeFazio of Oregon, and Bobby Bright of Alabama.
“We need to have leadership from the middle, conservative centrist leadership. It’s too hard to govern from the middle if you’re from the far left or the far right,” Marshall spokesman Doug Moore told The Daily Caller.
Other House Democrats who have refused to commit to supporting Pelosi – indicating they too would like to see a change – include Walt Minnick of Idaho, Michael McMahon of New York, Scott Murphy of New York, Travis Childers of Mississippi, Dan Boren of Oklahoma, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Zack Space of Ohio, and Chet Edwards of Texas.
TheDC contacted 50 conservative Blue Dog Democrats by phone and e-mail on Tuesday, and received only one response in support of Pelosi.
Mike Thompson of California “believes that the Speaker should retain her position,” Thompson spokeswoman Laurel Brown told TheDC.
It is a grim moment for House Democrats. They have fought hard against the prevailing winds for months, trying to fend off the sense of an inevitable Republican wave. Yet the last several days have seen estimates of potential Republican gains swell to somewhere between 50 and 60 seats, which is entering 1994 territory, when the GOP took 54 seats.
The election is now less than two weeks away, and the likelihood that Democrats will likely be relegated back to the minority after only four short years in power is getting closer to becoming a reality. The number of seats in play is somewhere in the 90s, with all but a handful of those being Democrat-held seats.
The Hill newspaper has released polling results in the last three weeks for 36 tossup House races, with 12 more to come next week. Democrats have led in only four of the 36 races so far, with three others tied, according to the polling by Penn Schoen Berland.
The White House blames the economy. “The political environment mainly is driven because of our economic environment. We’re at 9.6 unemployment,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said flatly on Tuesday.
But an National Public Radio poll found Obama’s approval rating in tossup congressional districts to be at 41 percent, with his disapproval at 55 percent.
Republican pollster Steve Lombardo wrote Wednesday that Obama is “killing Democrats.”
“President Obama’s policies are an albatross around the neck of the Democratic Party and, as a result, congressional Democrats will probably suffer a historic defeat on November 2nd,” Lombardo wrote.
House Democratic leadership aides remained defiant.
“Unlike Republican staff who are still in D.C. measuring drapes and ordering champagne with the Koch brothers credit card, Dem staff are engaged and singularly focused on winning November 2,” one leadership aide said.
Pelosi staff did not respond to requests for comment, but spokesman Nadeam Elshami told Roll Call that “the Speaker’s focus is on Democrats winning the election and retaining the majority, which we will.”
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, the Maryland Democrat who is next in line behind Pelosi, also gamely predicted that Pelosi would stay where she is.
“I think she’ll have enough votes,” Hoyer said.
But McIntyre, a seven-term congressman, told a North Carolina TV station last Thursday that he had heard Pelosi will not run for Speaker if Democrats retain the House.
“From what we’re hearing, she’s probably not going to run for speaker again,” McIntyre said. “And if she does, I’m confident she’s going to have opposition, and I look forward to supporting that opposition.
A Pelosi aide denied the rumor to NBC’s Luke Russert.
But even Pelosi has begun to allude to the possibility that she might be gone after 23 years in Congress. Asked during an interview with CBS News whether she thought her work to pass President Obama’s health care overhaul earlier this year would cost her her job, Pelosi indicated she thought it would be worth it.
“Are you saying would I rather not have passed the health care bill so I could keep this office? Never. Never.”