WASHINGTON - Rep. Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday won re-election to another term as House minority leader, beating back a challenge by restive members of her caucus.
Pelosi, 76, a California Democrat, was elected by a 134-63 vote to an eighth term as the House Democrats’ leader in the next Congress that begins in January.
She defeated Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), 43, who said he ran for the post to open leadership to new members and fresh ideas so Democrats can win back the House majority.
“I’m disappointed because I like to win, but I think it was a great discussion for us,” Ryan said. “I think the party is better off.”
He said the vote shows many Democrats want a change in direction after recent dismal election results for the party.
“We need to have an economic message that resounds in every corner,” Ryan said. “At the end of the day, we have to figure out how to win.”
Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City), who was the first House Democrat to announce her support for Ryan, said she was encouraged by the vote and will continue to push for the House caucus to conduct an analysis of why Democrats lose.
Noting that a third of the 195 voting Democrats supported Ryan, Rice said, “That’s a pretty strong message that people want change.”
Pelosi congratulated Ryan on “a good race” and said she looks forward to the challenge of dealing with President-elect Donald Trump’s administration and Republican House majority.
“We know how to win elections. We’ve done it in the past, we will do it again,” Pelosi said. “But again, this is so much bigger than politics. It’s about the character of America.”
Pelosi and her leadership team weathered a revolt prompted by Democrats’ loss of the White House to Trump, a Republican, and its meager pick up of six House seats despite projections they would win as many as 25 seats.
Democrats also re-elected an increasingly older team: Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), 77, as minority whip; Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), 76, as assistant to the leader, and Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Queens), 54, as caucus chairman.
In response to Ryan’s challenge, Pelosi proposed to bring in newer lawmakers into the party’s communications committee and broaden the leadership team.
Pelosi could react to Rice’s opposition by changing her committee assignments, which include memberships of the Homeland Security and Veterans’ Affairs committees. Rice shrugged off the idea that Pelosi would retaliate.
Rice, re-elected to a second term this year, said the party needs to not only change leaders but also find a better way to reach out to voters.
For the past two decades, the Democrats have focused on the middle class, a message delivered by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Steve Israel of Huntington in their roles as their party’s policy and communication chairs.
Thomas Suozzi of Glen Cove, elected to replace the retiring Israel, did not respond to queries about how he voted. The ballot was conducted in secret.