Michigan’s U.S. House Democrats stand by Pelosi

Melissa Nann Burke
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — The Michigan congressional delegation’s five Democrats will continue to support Nancy Pelosi as the U.S. House minority leader, despite a series of disappointing electoral losses.

Dissension among Democrats in the U.S. House prompted the postponement of leadership elections from this week until Nov. 30 after they gained six seats in the Nov. 8 elections — far below what they were projected to pick up. Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan announced Thursday he would challenge Pelosi, saying the party needs to re-evaluate and re-create itself.

“Somebody would have to demonstrate that they’re in a better position to lead us, and so far I haven’t seen anybody do that,” Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township, told The Detroit News at the U.S. Capitol.

Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, intends to support Pelosi but noted the challenges the caucus faces in uniting factions that feel undervalued — from younger members to the Congressional Black Caucus to representatives from Midwestern Rust Belt states.

“We all have to stay together. Our strength comes in being together,” said Dingell, who is finishing up her freshman term. “Very important discussions are happening, and leadership understands it.”

Pelosi of California and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland have led House Democrats together for 14 years.

“Under our current leadership, Democrats have been reduced to our smallest congressional minority since 1929,” Ryan said in a statement declaring his candidacy. “This should indicate to all of us that keeping our leadership team completely unchanged will simply lead to more disappointment in future elections.”

The “definition of insanity” is doing the “same thing over and over again and keep getting the same results,” he told CNN.

Some Democrats had urged Rep. Joseph Crowley of New York to run for Pelosi’s position, but he declined.

Kildee said he understands his colleagues’ frustration, but he plans as member of the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee to pursue what he believes to be the right direction for the party.

“We all as members have to take some individual responsibility. It’s not just about the elected leaders who are supposed to come up with some overarching strategy that somehow plays well in 200 districts or 230 districts around the country,” Kildee said. “I get the frustration, but it’s really on all of us to do everything we can.”

Dingell said she intends to work with her colleagues to ensure the Midwest is not ignored as it was during the presidential election when Republican Donald Trump eked out a surprise win in Michigan that helped secure the White House.

Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield, said she intends to vote for Pelosi but hopes party leaders heed the call for a new vision for the party.

“They have to know we can’t keep doing things the way we did,” Lawrence said.

“It’s not her. It’s our process. It’s our vision. She’s heard us loud and clear. We have been very honest. ... ‘We need you, Leader, to take us, take our passion, take the reality that we’ve just been slapped in the face with — take that and guide us and lead us in the right direction. Because we want to win.’”

Reps. John Conyers Jr., D-Detroit, and Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak, also support Pelosi. Conyers and Levin are the ranking Democrats of the House Judiciary and Ways and Means committees, respectively.

Pelosi, who is favored to keep her post, officially launched her re-election bid on Wednesday, writing to the caucus and members-elect and saying she has the support of more than two-thirds of their ranks.

“It is with both humility and confidence that I write to request your support for House Democratic Leader,” she wrote.

“In the days since the election, I have been deeply grateful for the insights members have shared with me. We have all been deeply moved by the stories and concerns of our constituents. They elected us to fight for their jobs, families and futures. We have and we will!”


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