Nancy needs to remain the face and voice of the democrats.
As incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi works to consolidate votes for her leadership bid, a group of largely centrist House Democrats have remained holdouts. Publicly, they’re pushing for tweaks to House rules once Democrats take over the chamber in January. But behind the scenes, a leading advocacy group that has helped organize this coalition of moderates has been itching to make life hell for Pelosi.
Internal communications reviewed by The Daily Beast show that early this year the group No Labels, a centrist advocacy organization, contemplated a plan to kneecap Pelosi’s political standing. In one exchange, a top official with the group even laid out the pros and cons of turning the California Democrat into a “bogeyman.”
That was well before Democrats took back the House of Representatives. In the weeks since they reclaimed congressional power, Pelosi has sought to earn back the Speaker’s gavel. And though the vast majority of her caucus supports her bid, moderate Democrats allied with No Labels remain some of the few party members refusing to give her their votes absent concessions from Pelosi and her team.
No Labels has publicly couched its efforts in conciliatory language, posting items on its website that subtly nudge other Democrats towards a Pelosi challenge, or that gently suggest it might be time for a leadership change. The group also wants Pelosi to commit to weakening the power of party leaders and committee chairs, among other measures that it says will empower rank and file members and reduce gridlock.
Behind the scenes, No Labels and its leader, political strategist Nancy Jacobson, have been more skeptical of Pelosi and more willing to try and marginalize her among her members.
Emails obtained by The Daily Beast show that No Labels leadership contemplated a campaign to attack Pelosi aggressively after the primary campaign of centrist Rep. Dan Lipinski, who faced a primary challenge this year from Marie Newman, a progressive political neophyte. Lipinski’s pro-life stance had alienated a number of Democrats, but he was a proud member of the No Labels-backed House Problem-Solvers Caucus, and the group worked through a network of allied super PACs to support his reelection bid.
“Nancy, I have been thinking about our using Pelosi as the chief bogeyman in our messaging post-Lipinski,” began one email, subject line: “Pelosi as bogeyman.”
Pelosi had endorsed Lipinski. But No Labels leadership was convinced that her support was a fig leaf. Jacobson, according to a source familiar with the group’s internal deliberations, was convinced that Pelosi had secretly tried to scuttle the congressman’s reelection and proposed publicly attacking the Democratic leader in the run-up to the midterms.
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