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Cuomo, Dems pushing Rice on Pelosi, but she's not budging

Rep. Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., talks to reporters about

Rep. Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., talks to reporters about her opposition to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., becoming the speaker of the House when the Democrats take the majority in the 116th Congress, in the basement of the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. Photo Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite

ALBANY -- Andrew M. Cuomo and other Democrats are trying to pressure Rep. Kathleen Rice to back Nancy Pelosi as U.S. House speaker.

Cuomo has done radio interviews this week urging Rice (D-Garden City) to support the California representative for the sake of party unity. The state Democratic Committee, which Cuomo controls, has paid for digital ads conveying the same message. Plus, local Democrats, including Nassau County Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs, also have spoken out.

Rice has been outspoken about those who say said House Democrats need a “generational” change in leadership after winning a congressional majority last month. And she hasn’t budged since.

Cuomo, in an interview with WAMC, an Albany public radio station, said House Democrats should unite following an internal vote for leader.

“They had a democratic caucus. The democrats argued, they yelled, they pointed fingers, they picked Nancy Pelosi. Don't jeopardize democratic leadership to the Congress,” Cuomo said. “It's the only break we have on this president and his extreme conservative locomotive.”

(Recall that Pelosi traveled to New York to campaign with Cuomo and Democratic congressional candidates earlier this year, and that she endorsed Cuomo at the state Democratic convention in May when he was being challenged by Cynthia Nixon in a primary.)

Pelosi won the internal Democratic vote, 203-32, according to numerous reports. But she needs 218 members to support her in a vote of the full, 435-member House to officially become Speaker. So, she needs at least 15 dissident Democrats to return to the fold. Though Pelosi has been talking with other Democrats, Rice still is pushing for new leadership.

“The party establishment is circling the wagons for one of two reasons: either they didn’t hear voters’ call for a generational change in leadership, or they’re simply choosing to ignore it,” Rice spokesman Michael Aciman said in an email.

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