An unbowed House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) insisted Thursday that she has the votes to become the chamber’s speaker despite solid opposition from more than a dozen Democrats who want fresh leadership when the party takes control of the chamber next year.
“I have overwhelming support in my caucus to be speaker of the House,” Pelosi told reporters. “I happen to think at this point, I’m the best person for that.”
A vote in the Democratic caucus is scheduled for Nov. 28. The full will House vote Jan. 3 to elect a new speaker.
During her remarks, Pelosi touted the size of the Democratic victory in the midterm election, which she called “almost a tsunami.” With a few races still to be decided, Democrats are poised to pick up close to 40 seats in the chamber.
She called that “the biggest victory for the Democrats since 1974, when the Watergate babies came in.”
Pelosi faces solid opposition from at least 17 Democrats, setting the stage for an intense battle over who will ascend to one of the most powerful positions in Washington.
After a campaign in which some Democrats prevailed in competitive districts by promising to oppose her, a coalition of incumbents and newly elected members has denied her a smooth path to the speakership.
The defections, if they stand, would leave Pelosi, who has led the Democrats for more than 15 years, several votes short of the 218 she would need when the full House votes . However, no Democrat has stepped forward to run against her for a job she held from 2007 through 2010.
Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (D-Ohio) told reporters Wednesday that she’s being encouraged to stand for speaker if Pelosi doesn’t have the votes.
In an interview with The Washington Post on Thursday, she said she has been “overwhelmed” by the support from many of her colleagues for her possible entry into the race.
“Over the last 12 hours, I’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of support I’ve received,” Fudge said, adding that “probably closer to 30” Democrats have privately signaled that they are willing to oppose Pelosi.
“Things could change rapidly,” she said.
Fudge, 66, a former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said that she is building a diverse coalition as she considers a run for speaker, talking with allies in the CBC, moderate Democrats and newly elected members.
Pelosi has received the strong backing of the Congressional Black Caucus.
On Thursday, Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.), one of its members, wrote a letter to colleagues praising Pelosi’s “insight, fortitude and strategic thinking” and urging support for her speakership bid.
Former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr., an African American who is contemplating a 2020 presidential bid, also voiced support for Pelosi, praising her in a tweet as “an architect of the recent midterm success.”
Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), a leader of the resistance to Pelosi, said in an interview with CNN on Thursday that Fudge is “the kind of new leader that we need in this party.”
“She’s in touch with middle America. She understands what the American people want. She’s a next-generation leader that people will look to and say, ‘That’s the future of our party, that’s the future of our country, and that’s exactly the kind of leader that I want to see as our next speaker.”
Robert Costa, Erica Werner, Mike DeBonis, Paul Kane and Elise Viebeck contributed to this report.