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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WKBN) – Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has been re-elected as House Minority Leader, defeating Valley Congressman Tim Ryan.
The secret ballot vote on Wednesday was 134-63.
Ryan said after the vote that he knew it would be an uphill battle, with only a couple of weeks to put it together.
“It’s 20-some votes more than the person that ran against her last time. We moved the needed a lot and only had a two-week window in order to do it, so it was very quick,” he said.
Ryan challenged Pelosi for the job, arguing that newer lawmakers need a bigger voice in a caucus that’s been led for years by the same aging slate of leaders and committee chairmen. The California lawmaker has led the party since 2002.
“I feel like we changed the message. We have Democrats talking about what I think are the important issues that people in Youngstown care about,” Ryan said. “There are a lot more places in the country that look like Youngstown than like the upper west side of Manhattan.”
He said that economic message is starting to resonate with the lawmakers.
“I think it’s the message that can help position us to get back into the majority at some point and really reshape and redefine the Democratic Party.”
Pelosi’s message Wednesday was simple — the Democrats need to put on a united front to take on President-elect Donald Trump and the Republicans who control Congress.
“I think we are at a time when it is well beyond politics. It’s about the character of America and how we go forward in our caucus to put forth our values, which are what unite us,” she said.
Pelosi’s win came despite disenchantment among some in the Democratic caucus over the party’s disappointing performance in the elections earlier this month. Democrats will remain in the minority in the House and Senate next year and won’t have the presidency as a bulwark against Republicans.
WKBN Congressional reporter Alex Schuman says it’s rare for any Democrat to challenge Pelosi.
“She’s known for having really strict leadership. She’s a big fundraiser for the party, and even in 2010 when Republicans took back control of the House of Representatives in big numbers, no one still challenged her in terms of leadership.”
Youngstown State University Political Science Chair Dr. Paul Sracic said he believed that Democrats were considering money when they voted for Pelosi.
“She is a really, really good fundraiser for the Democrats. That’s what a lot of people were looking at — the $140 million, $141 million that she raised last year for the Democratic Party,” he said.
Could Pelosi’s win mean trouble for Ryan?
“She’s been known for punishing, and when I did talk to Congressman Ryan about that, he said he’s not worried about that,” Schuman said. “He said he sat quietly in 2012, 2014 and 2016 when they lost, tried to be a team player, and that’s what drove him to challenge her.”
Sracic cited Jane Harman, a former member of Congress from California, who was removed from a prominent committee assignment and later left Congress after she crossed Pelosi.
“So there is some worry that perhaps she’ll be upset with Congressman Ryan for causing the disturbance, for forcing her to face a real election. Although he didn’t get near enough votes that he needed to challenge her, it did send a message because there was a few more than people expected,” he said.
Congressman Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, responded to Wednesday’s vote, saying he and Ryan have “a good working relationship on critical issues that are important to the Mahoning Valley.”
“The result of today’s vote isn’t going to change that,” Johnson said. “I’m willing to work with anyone who brings productive ideas to the table and wants to move America forward, regardless of party affiliation.”
Tim Ryan released the following statement after Wednesday’s vote:
First, I want to congratulate Nancy Pelosi on her re-election. As I’ve said throughout this process, I respect and care for Leader Pelosi and look forward to working with her to promote a progressive agenda for the country. That includes raising wages and creating jobs for working families; protecting the progress we’ve made for women, minorities, and those in the LGBTQ community; and defending Americans from any President-elect Trump proposal that would threaten their rights or ability to provide for their loved ones. I’d like to thank the members who stood with me throughout this process, because they, too, saw that change needed to be embraced-I’m forever grateful for that support. I also want to thank every member of the Democratic Caucus for listening to my message and for their frank discussions and ideas on how we can improve our party
I ran for Leader because I believe strongly in the promise of the Democratic Party, but November taught us that changes were necessary. Our party’s losses showed our Caucus that we needed to have a serious conversation about our path forward and open the door for new reforms and voices in Democratic Leadership.
I am proud that my bid for Democratic Leader pushed our members to have these tough family discussions about our future and how we win back the majority in 2018. I am also pleased to see that Leader Pelosi will adopt my proposal to expand leadership by creating a position for Freshman members and to bring back the power to the Committees by creating Vice-Chair/Vice- Ranking Member positions. While I still believe our Caucus can do more to decentralize the power of leadership, these are steps in the right direction. I believe that fostering new ideas from new voices is a crucial step toward developing our Caucus and winning back the House.
However, it is clear as we learn more about the outcome of our elections that we’re ignoring crucial voices that deserve to be heard. The people I represent in Northeast Ohio and the tens of millions of workers across our country are proud to be called blue collar. Democrats must adopt a progressive economic message that focuses on large, direct infrastructure investments, affordable health care, portable pensions, and public-private investments that promote advanced manufacturing. Hopelessness is a product of economic and social adversity. That is why Democrats must always be the party of aspiration and inclusion.
To ensure that every member of our Caucus is included in the discussion to move our party forward, we all must continue to push for open discussion and to strengthen our outreach to working families and institute the reforms necessary to evolve as a Party and win back the trust of American voters.”