I know some people are surprised that the House Democratic Caucus went ahead and selected Nancy Pelosi for Speaker again but really, what else could they do? No one else was stepping up to challenge her for the job and the Democrats are not going to publicly rebuke the first women to ever serve as Speaker of the House.
The only way that the Democrats would have dumped Pelosi would have been if another potentially history-making candidate had stepped up to challenge her, someone like Karen Bass or Hakeem Jeffries or Marcia Fudge or even James Clyburn. Even then, I think they would have attempted to keep the negotiations private, with Pelosi voluntarily retiring if she saw evidence that she didn’t have the votes. However, Jeffries endorsed Pelosi early on and James Clyburn currently has so much influence with Joe Biden that becoming Speaker would almost be a step down for him. Karen Bass, meanwhile, stands a pretty good chance of being appointed to the U.S. Senate after Kamala Harris resigns her seat to become vice president.
With no one stepping up to challenge her, Pelosi has been reelected. I think the Democrats would be better off with a different, younger leader but that’s not going to happen this Congress.
(For the record, when she was challenged by a Seth Moulton-led attempt to bring in a younger leadership team in 2019, Pelosi did say that she would step down as Speaker after the 2022 midterms, regardless of which party won control of the chamber. Whether or not she’ll keep her word is anyone’s guess.)
U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) is resigning his seat in Congress so that he can serve as an advisor in the Biden White House. Earlier this week, Pelosi reportedly asked all the members of her caucus to turn down any of offers from the White House because it looks like the Democratic majority is going to be so slim that just a few special elections could lead to Kevin McCarthy becoming Speaker.
However, there’s no need for Pelosi to worry about Richmond’s seat. Richmond comes from one of the most Democratic seats in the country. (Since 1891, the only Republican to ever win election to the House from New Orleans was Joseph Cao and he only won because of the outrageous corruption of Rep. Bill Jefferson. Cao served for one term before being defeated by Richmond in 2010.) There will be a special election and a Democrat will win. It’s just a question of which Democrat.
One name that I’ve seen tossed around is that of Mitch Landrieu, the former mayor of New Orleans. Landrieu would be a formidable contender, though I have my doubts about whether or not Landrieu could win the run-off. When I saw Landrieu’s name, I couldn’t help but remember that, for a brief moment in time, Landrieu flirted with running for President in 2020. Today, it can be strange to remember that, in 2018 and 2019, many Democrats were so weary of Biden as a candidate that they actually considered drafting the former mayor of New Orleans as a preferable alternative.
Louisiana is red state, despite the fact that it currently has a Democratic governor. (John Bel Edwards, though, has been smart enough to avoid having much to do with the national party.) It’s hard to imagine Landrieu getting elected governor or going to the Senate. If he wants to keep his name out there, it seems like he can either run for the House or hope to get a position in Biden’s cabinet. The House might seem like a step down but if Landrieu wants to stay in politics, that might be the most logical place for him to end up.
One final thought: Richmond is free to leave the House because his district is solid blue. However, Democrats who have been elected from purple districts (not to mention red districts) will probably be stuck in the House because who knows who might be elected to replace them. So, Cedric Richmond will get to work in the White House while Conor Lamb definitely will not.
It’s been an interesting few weeks.
Despite Donald Trump’s claims, Joe Biden won the presidential election. Compared to what the polls were saying, it wasn’t a particularly impressive victory. All of the talk about people lying to pollsters and hiding their support of Trump until they cast their vote turned out to be, to a certain extent, true. Still, it wasn’t enough to win the election.
My personal take is that, if not for COVID, Trump would have won reelection. People may have disliked him but they were happy with the economy and they were not happy with the idea of defunding the police. But the pandemic exposed all of Trump’s weaknesses when it comes to dealing with a crisis. At a time when America needed strong leadership, Trump was often too busy being Trump. The Republicans dominated many of the down ballot elections, even in states that went easily for Biden, which suggests that the presidential election was less about embracing Biden and more about rejecting Trump.
My guess is that Trump will never concede but he will leave the White House in 2021. Will he run again in 2024? Considering that Biden and the Democrats are going to spend the next four years blaming him for every problem in the country, I imagine Trump will. Trump is too thin-skinned to take that lying down.
For now, though, Biden has won. The Republicans have increased their presence in the U.S. House and, depending on what happens in Georgia’s two Senate election, they’ve kept control of the Senate. Gridlock is the future, which is not necessarily a bad thing.