Himes to Dems who oppose Pelosi — put up alternative or shut up

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U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, left, with  Nancy Pelosi of California, who was chosen by her caucus Wednesday to be their candidate for Speaker of the House.

Washington – With the help of members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation, U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday was nominated to be the Democratic candidate for the next Speaker of the House.

But she faces a much tougher test in January, when the full U.S. House will vote on her candidacy.

The vote behind closed doors  in support of Pelosi was 203-32, with a few Democrats casting blank ballots and one voting “present.”

Although support for Pelosi was overwhelming among Democrats, she will need at least 218 votes in January to become Speaker, and no Republican is expected to vote for her.

So as of now, Pelosi is about 15 votes shy of victory and still faces a rebellion led by Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., and other Democrats who want a change in leadership.

“I think what’s important here is the end game,” Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District, told reporters. “Seth and the others can run their play, and their theory is that if Nancy Pelosi is denied the votes on the floor then an alternative emerges. If their theory works, we’ll deal with that eventuality when it happens. If their theory doesn’t work, they need to stand down. They’re doing something they have the right to do, but if it doesn’t work they need to stand down in the interest of unity.”

Himes also said that if some Democrats prevent Pelosi from becoming Speaker, “they better have their alternative ready to go.”

The lack of a clear alternative to Pelosi helped convince many Democrats – including Rep.-elect Jahana Hayes, D-5th District – to support the California Democrat.

Meanwhile, Pelosi, and her most loyal supporters, focused on the votes she won on Wednesday, not those she failed to get.

“The vote today was a great outcome,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District. “ Nancy Pelosi won the overwhelming support of the Democratic Caucus, and she will win and be Speaker of the House on January 3rd.”

For the past several Congresses, Pelosi has appointed DeLauro to a leadership position, that of co-chairman of the Steering and Policy Committee.

DeLauro wants to keep that job in the new Congress, which gives her sway over what Democrats are given key committee assignments.

Rep. John Larson, D-1st District, said Wednesday’s vote was an opportunity for some lawmakers who said on the campaign trail they would not support Pelosi to cast a “no” vote. But he said many Democrats who voted against Pelosi’s nomination would support her in January to avoid any chance of a Republican becoming Speaker.

“It gives them political cover,” Larson said of those Democrats. “I feel confident that she will get at least 218 votes in January.”

House Democrats on Wednesday also re-elected Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md. for the No. 2 spot and Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina as the third-ranking Democrat, reinstating their entire leadership team for the new Congress.