The Massachusetts delegation seems to be coming around on Rep. Nancy Pelosi.
With the House Democratic majority set to hold leadership elections Wednesday, the nine-member Bay State delegation has increasingly fallen in line behind the 78-year-old California congresswoman, the party’s only declared House speaker candidate. And even if the state’s representation includes a few notable anti-Pelosi holdouts, even they appear to be softening their stances.
Here’s a look at each member of the Massachusetts delegation’s position on Pelosi and the House speaker election.
After remaining noncommittal during his re-election campaign, Neal gave Pelosi his unqualified endorsement last week. In a statement shared by Pelosi’s campaign, the 1st District congressman and incoming House Ways and Means Committee chairman said that the next House speaker “must be a shrewd, battle-tested negotiator who can out-maneuver Republicans” and build on the gains made by Democrats.
“The next Speaker of the House must be a shrewd, battle-tested negotiator who understands how to out-maneuver Republicans & continue to build on gains Democrats made under Nancy’s leadership.” –incoming Ways & Means Committee Chair Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) endorses #TeamPelosi. pic.twitter.com/7vLu9IWpz2
— Nancy Pelosi (@TeamPelosi) November 12, 2018
Neal also sent his Democratic colleagues a letter imploring them to support Pelosi’s bid to return to the speakership role she held from 2007 to 2011. The Worcester Democrat wrote that it was her leadership that “made the passage of the Affordable Care Act possible.” The results of the recent midterm elections — during which Democrats across the board focused predominantly on the issue of health care — proved that Americans want Congress to protect the rights extended under that law, according to Neal.
“They want a trusted, proven leader who will out-negotiate anyone when their family’s health and economic security are on the line,” he said.
McGovern has been a consistent ally of Pelosi. Last week, the 2nd District congressman led a letter signed by Democratic members of the House Rules Committee offering their “wholehearted endorsement” of Pelosi for speaker. The letter specifically praised Pelosi’s past accomplishments as speaker, as well as her efforts to hold Democrats together to “protect” the ACA “despite Republican control of the Senate, the House, and the White House” (House Republicans did ultimately pass a bill to dismantle the health care law, but it failed to pass in the Senate).
“She proved the pundits and prognosticators wrong, and our nation is stronger because she defied the odds,” McGovern, as well as Reps. Alcee Hastings and Norma Torres, wrote. “That didn’t happen by accident. It was the result of her collaborative leadership style and ability to rally others behind a progressive agenda.”
Like Neal, the Worcester Democrat, as the current ranking member of the Rules Committee, is also slated to ascend to a chairmanship under Pelosi.
McGovern is working with the Democratic leaders to draft a sweeping rules package, which includes reforms to make the legislative process more open and inclusive. In his letter last week, he praised Pelosi for initiating “an unprecedented process for soliciting House rules change ideas from our entire Caucus.” McGovern and Pelosi are reportedly meeting with a bipartisan group of House members Tuesday night over a list of requested rules changes.
Throughout her primary and general election campaign, Trahan said she would need to see who the candidates for House speaker were before she committed to vote for or against Pelosi. But less than two weeks after the midterm elections, with no other declared Democratic candidate for speaker, the 3rd District congresswoman-elect signed a letter with 60 other female members announcing her support.
— Chris Lisinski (@ChrisLisinski) November 16, 2018
“There’s no one else with the experience and the proven track record of Nancy Pelosi,” Trahan told the Lowell Sun upon signing the letter. “The stakes are high right now, and it’s important we have, at the helm of our party, someone who knows how to balance the role of holding the administration accountable while also being someone who can get legislation passed.”
Joe Kennedy III
Kennedy, for his part, hasn’t ever wavered much on his stance on Pelosi as the party’s leader.
“I still fully support her,” the 4th District congressman told the Boston Herald last December, practically challenging the Democratic leader’s critics.
“I think she’s playing a pretty difficult hand,” he continued. “The one thing I’d say to folks that criticize that is if you have a message that you want to send, if you believe that there should be a different argument put forth and if you believe that you have something else to offer, then go do it. Go ahead, go out there and make your case.”
Fast-forward nearly 12 months, and Kennedy’s position remains the same.
Only Speaker I’ve voted for so far – not changing that now! https://t.co/IpvgNUmoT8
— Rep. Joe Kennedy III (@RepJoeKennedy) November 20, 2018
While the Newton Democrat thinks younger House members should have opportunities to share their message, he says Pelosi doesn’t have control over that: “Nancy Pelosi ain’t getting in the way of anybody.”
“I have been in office now for six years,” Kennedy told WBZ in an interview Sunday. “We are at this extraordinary opportunity in the Democratic caucus to try to deliver on some promises, hold administration accountable, but recognize that we aspire to be a big tent party and you’ve got to find ways to build that consensus, empower our members, and unify behind values and policies. There is nobody that’s better at doing that than Nancy Pelosi. Period.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Clark’s name was also on the letter signed by Trahan. The 4th District congresswoman, who herself is running for a leadership role in Wednesday’s elections, has also been a longtime ally — and even friend — of Pelosi. Even in the immediate aftermath of the 2016 election, Clark stood by Pelosi’s side, while also voicing support for new voices in leadership.
“She has been a leader on the issues that matters to my constituents and matter to I think families across the country,” Clark told WBUR at the time.
When asked in a Boston Globe questionnaire this year before both the primary and general election whether she’d support Pelosi for speaker, Clark simply responded: “Yes.”
Moulton made national waves this month — for better or worse — for the reprisal of his opposition to Pelosi.
The 6th District congressman was centrally involved in a movement to get fellow Democrats to commit against voting for Pelosi on the House floor, though they failed to field an actual challenger from within the party. The 40-year-old Salem native subsequently found himself the subject of backlash from fellow Democrats, both nationally and back home in his district.
This week, however, Moulton appeared to shift — and perhaps soften — his opposition to Pelosi in the leadership race. The Washington Post reported that he is hoping to meet with her to “discuss possible terms for the support of his group,” such as replacing septuagenarian Reps. Steny Hoyer or James E. Clyburn, who are set to hold the No. 2 and No. 3 posts in the House, with a younger Democrat in leadership.
“Leader Pelosi wants to boil this down to a personal argument, but this is so much bigger than her,” Moulton said in a statement to the Post. “It’s about the entire, stagnant three-person leadership team and having a serious conversation about promoting leaders who reflect the future of our caucus.”
During her insurgent primary campaign, Pressley maintained that she “would not hire a principal for a school without knowing the values and mission statement of the school,” adding that it was premature to back Pelosi without knowing all the candidates to be Democratic leader. Even after she won the general election, the 7th District congresswoman-elect said she wanted to meet with Pelosi first.
“We’re getting to know one another, and I want to talk about some of the priorities, the bold legislative priorities that I’m hoping to see right out of the gate,” Pressley told CNN.
On Monday, she announced that she had made up her mind and would be supporting Pelosi for speaker.
I am supporting Barbara Lee for Caucus Chair, Katherine Clark for Vice Chair & Nancy Pelosi for Speaker. Who is in a formal leadership role does matter and these women have a strong progressive track record, but this 116th Congress will be defined by more than who holds a title: pic.twitter.com/1f4wRWu5BU
— Ayanna Pressley (@AyannaPressley) November 26, 2018
“Who is in a formal leadership role matters, and these women have a strong progressive track record, but this 116th Congress will be defined by more than who holds a title,” Pressley said in statement Monday afternoon.
According to the Boston Democrat, Pelosi’s commitment to bring a background check bill to the House floor to address gun violence was an important factor in her decision.
“My support for Leader Pelosi’s bid for Speaker is motivated by her progressive track record and her express commitment to bring a background check bill to the floor as an early priority this Congress,” Pressley said. “I have been appointed to the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force and will work in close partnership with my colleagues, advocates and impacted communities to address the epidemic of gun violence. Our mandate is clear: to push legislation that saves as many lives as possible as quickly as possible.”
Lynch, a South Boston native representing the state’s 8th District, has been a Pelosi detractor before it was cool, asserting in 2015 that she “will not lead [Democrats] back to the majority.” And even after she did just that earlier this month, Lynch signed onto the anti-Pelosi letter with Moulton, committing to vote for new leadership.
Here is anti-Pelosi letter. 7 more names on 2nd page pic.twitter.com/UMfltkkZzq
— John Bresnahan (@BresPolitico) November 19, 2018
But without any other Democrat running to be House speaker, the Southie Democrat conceded that he would vote for Pelosi in a House floor vote against a Republican candidate.
“If it becomes as a choice between a Republican and Nancy Pelosi, I’ll obviously support Nancy Pelosi,” he told WCVB in an interview Sunday, though he added that Democrats risk losing the majority and allowing President Donald Trump to be re-elected if they don’t “offer a new direction.”
“There’s been a real rift between blue collar Democrats and independents and this elitist version of the Democratic Party that is, I think wed too closely to Wall Street and pharmaceutical companies, and things like that,” said the self-styled “moderate Democrat.”
Lynch agreed that Pelosi was a talented legislator and fundraiser, but maintained that he thinks Democrats “lose the House again” if she is the “face” of the party.
During his re-election campaign this fall, Keating declined to commit his support to Pelosi.
“Right now I’m open to any candidate,” the Bourne Democrat said in a debate, according to WPRI.
Throughout the now years-long debate over whether Pelosi should stay on as the Democratic leader, Keating has kept his position mostly quiet — repeatedly not responding to past inquires by the Globe and other outlets. However, buried in an article last week, the paper reported that he is indeed supporting Pelosi to return as House speaker.