OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Democrats in Congress are getting set for a power vacuum, and thus a fight for power, as rumors swirl around Washington, D.C. about House Speaker and California Rep. Nancy Pelosi retiring.
The 81-year-old Speaker has hinted that she may retire before the 2022 midterm elections and now she may make good on it, CNN reported.
After taking back the House in 2018, Nancy Pelosi called herself “a bridge to the next generation of leaders” and agreed to a deal: she’d serve again as speaker for no more than four years.
Time is now ticking — and no one knows what Pelosi will do in 2022.
Confidantes of the 81-year-old speaker reject any rumors she might quit before the end of this Congress, saying doing so would only embolden Republicans and undercut her ability to raise millions to save her party’s imperiled majority. She has yet to say if she will mount a reelection bid next year, though her campaign continues to raise millions in case she runs for the seat she’s held since 1987.
While Pelosi has previously indicated that this is her last term as speaker, she hasn’t completely shut the door quite yet, fueling speculation she could ultimately seek to prolong her 18-year tenure ruling the House Democratic caucus.
“Everyone assumes this is her last term, but no one knows for sure,” one of the confidantes said to CNN. “People don’t realize how hard it was to win (the speaker’s race) last time.”
But the source said they do not believe she would retire before the 2022 midterms.
“If she left early, she would be blamed for losing the House,” they said. “She doesn’t want to look like a loser.”
New York Democrat Rep. Hakeem Jeffries is seen by many as the heir apparent to Pelosi, but he is not speculating.
“I’ll let the drama, in terms of internal House dynamics, exist over on the Republican side of the aisle,” he said. “We have a tremendous speaker, one speaker at a time, and we all stand strongly behind her.”
Virginia Democrat Rep. Abigail Spanberger said she voted against Pelosi for speaker two times and would do so again if she attempted to be Speaker again in 2023.
“If that’s the case, I’ll be three for three,” she said. “She’s previously said that this would be her last term as speaker so I suspect that she would stick to that. But since 2018, I think I’ve been consistent on the fact that I think we really need new voices spreading the word.
New York Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of the leaders of the progressives in Congress, appears to want to move on from Pelosi.
“I feel like just the history of the party overall has been to almost sideline progressive priorities, racial justice priorities, priorities for the working class, health care, et cetera,” she said to CNN. “And I don’t think that any selection of leadership should ever be a de facto thing.”
“So it’s not just about an individual person,” she said. “It’s about: Who is our caucus? What is the moment? And what is the alignment at that time.”
During an interview on CNN, Pelosi was asked by host Jake Tapper whether she would run again for her congressional seat.
“You’re leading the way. Are you going to run for reelection?” Tapper asked.
“You think I’m going to make an announcement here and now?” Pelosi shot back.
“Yeah. Why not? You’re going to run for reelection, though, yes?” Tapper responded.
“Why would I tell you that now?” Pelosi added.
“It’s not just me, it’s the American people, the world,” Tapper said.
“I probably would have that conversation with my family first, if you don’t mind,” Pelosi responded.