Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) on Sunday became the first congressional Democrat to publicly endorse Rep. Tim Ryan’s bid to unseat Nancy Pelosi as the next House minority leader.
Rice, in a statement issued Sunday, said she has “great respect for Leader Pelosi” — who has served as the House’s top-ranking Democrat since 2003 — but said she believes “the results of this election demand that we look honestly and critically at ourselves and think about the changes we need to make in order to be an effective opposition party and ultimately get back into the majority.”
“I’ve talked with Tim extensively, and it is clear that he is focused on the future of our party and our caucus,” Rice said of the Ohio congressman. “He’s focused on crafting a message that resonates with voters in every district. He’s focused on standing up to Trump and showing that Democrats are the real champions of the working class and the ones who truly respect working people.”
Rice’s endorsement comes after she and other House Democrats, reeling from the party’s election-night losses, successfully pushed for a delay in the caucus’ leadership vote that was initially scheduled for last week.
Last Thursday, Ryan, a swing-state congressman elected in 2003, announced his candidacy against Pelosi, a prolific fundraiser for the party, whose congressional district covers San Francisco.
Ryan, in a letter to House Democrats, said he was running because “we have lost over 60 seats since 2010. We have the fewest Democrats in state and federal offices since Reconstruction. At this time of fear and disillusionment, we owe it to our constituencies to listen and bring a new voice into leadership.”
Pelosi, a day earlier, announced her bid, saying she had the support of two-thirds of the chamber’s Democrats, a figure that Ryan has disputed.
“We must proceed with a clear vision, firm values and innovative strategy,” Pelosi said in a letter to House Democrats announcing her re-election bid last Wednesday.
House Democrats will hold their leadership vote Nov. 30.