Recriminations have begun flying among Democrats in the wake of stinging special election defeats in Georgia and South Carolina on Tuesday, which may not bode well for the party’s efforts to win back the House in 2018.
Democratic lawmakers and political operatives are venting at just about everything. But the latest target of their frustration over failing to wrest a seemingly winnable district in Georgia appears to be House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
“This is something that we certainly have to discuss,” Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) said during a Wednesday interview on CNN, when asked whether Pelosi should step down as minority leader and make room for fresh voices.
Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) also told CNN it was “time for Nancy Pelosi to go.”
Both Moulton and Rice opposed Pelosi in last year’s House Democratic leadership election, casting their ballots instead for Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan as minority leader. While Pelosi won, 44-year-old Ryan received a significant amount of support ― 64 votes to Pelosi’s 134 votes.
But it isn’t only previous Democratic critics of Pelosi who are calling for a change. Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas), who supported Pelosi in the leadership election, argued the minority leader had contributed to Democrats’ loss in Georgia.
“I think you’d have to be an idiot to think we could win the House with Pelosi at the top,” he told Politico on Wednesday. “Nancy Pelosi is not the only reason that Ossoff lost. But she certainly is one of the reasons.”
Republicans aired numerous ads against Jon Ossoff, the Democratic candidate in the Georgia race, that cast him as beholden to Pelosi and what the GOP characterized as her big spending liberal values from San Francisco. National Democrats and Ossoff’s campaign, however, refrained from reciprocating with equally unpopular GOP leaders like President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
Democrats gambled on peeling affluent, educated GOP voters in the suburban Atlanta district away from Karen Handel, the GOP candidate. They came close ― the historically conservative district swung heavily away from Republicans, but they lost anyway.
Neera Tanden, a Hillary Clinton confidante and the president of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, expressed her frustration with the Democrats’ strategy in the race Tuesday night on Twitter.