House Dem campaign chief defends Pelosi
Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), the chair of the House Democrats’ campaign arm, defended Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday amid an intraparty squabble about whether she should stay on as leader following multiple special election losses.
“Being leader is a tough responsibility, and there’s no one who works smarter and around the clock than Leader Pelosi,” the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) told reporters on a conference call when asked about the criticism.
“We are going to keep working hard — we know that we all as a Democratic caucus have to come together and stand together to make sure we are strong messengers, that we are reaching out across the country to earn and maintain the trust of the people across America.”
Pelosi has been forced onto the defensive after Democrats lost Tuesday’s special election runoff in Georgia, raising questions about whether she should continue serving as the party’s leader.
Republicans hammered Democrat Jon Ossoff with ads arguing he’d be a rubber-stamp for Pelosi’s agenda, demonizing her as a liberal boogeyman.
A handful of Democrats have called on her to step aside after the loss, arguing the party needs to move in a new direction.
But Pelosi defended herself during a Thursday press conference, bringing up the criticism unprompted.
“I thrive on competition and I welcome the discussion. But I am honored by the support,” she said.
The DCCC’s call attempted to put a positive spin on the disappointing Georgia defeat by arguing that overall trends are looking strong for Democrats despite the party’s fourth consecutive special election defeat.
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Democrats pumped tens of millions of dollars to boost Ossoff in a GOP stronghold that narrowly elected President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE in November. The race was seen as a tossup, but Republican Karen Handel ultimately pulled out a win by less than 4 points.
Dan Sena, DCCC executive director, conceded that “a loss is a loss,” but said that there are 71 districts that are easier for Democrats to compete in than Georgia’s 6th district.
“These districts for the specials are Donald Trump’s handpicked districts,” Sena said. “These are the districts that should have never been in play to begin with. We have forced the Republicans to spend north of $23 million to defend them.”
Luján also reiterated his memo from Wednesday declaring that the House is in play in 2018, something he hadn’t yet said this year and never said in the 2016 election cycle. He said the DCCC’s polling and data shows that they are competitive, particularly in some swing seats that Republicans carried last year by double digits.
The campaign chief also touted the influx of potential candidates expressing interest in more than 95 House districts. Many of those districts won’t be swing seats since partisan gerrymandering has limited the number of toss-ups, but the DCCC argued that they’ll be expanding the battlefield if they want to flip the 24 seats needed to capture the House majority.
“We are going to make Republicans fight for every single inch next year,” Sena said.