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Kathleen Rice seeks delay in leadership vote for House Democrats

Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) is among the

Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) is among the lawmakers urging House Democrats to take more time evaluating their leadership after the presidential election. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) is part of an effort to delay House Democrats’ leadership elections as the caucus discusses ways to regroup following a poor election showing.

Rice, elected last week to her second term representing Nassau County’s 4th Congressional District, is one of three lawmakers who first signed a letter to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi requesting the delay.

The letter, which was first reported late Sunday by Politico, has the support of Rice and Reps. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts and Ruben Gallego of Arizona.

About 20 other Democrats, whose names have yet to be released, will also sign on, said an aide to Rice. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens), whose district includes part of Nassau, confirmed late Monday that he has joined that group.

“It is vital that our caucus take the time to listen to the American people and learn the lessons of this difficult election, in order to put our caucus in the best position to fight the potentially dangerous agenda of President-elect Donald Trump and to have a realistic chance of taking back the House in 2018,” the letter reads.

Minority Democrats, after expressing initial hopes that they could significantly cut into Republicans’ nearly 50-member majority — or even retake the House — only netted a small handful of seats this election as Trump upset Hillary Clinton to take the White House.

The letter noted a conference call arranged last week by Pelosi to discuss the “devastating outcome” of the election: “It is evident from that conference call, as well as subsequent conversations, that the difficult situation in which our caucus now finds itself requires a much more extensive conversation between Members and our elected leadership.”

Pelosi, who has led the Democratic caucus since 2002, and served as House Speaker from 2007 to 2010, has yet to publicly respond to the request.

The letter did not explicitly suggest that new leadership is needed, but has asked to delay the caucus election from later this week until at least following the Thanksgiving recess.

“The voters have spoken loud and clear, and shame on us if we don’t hear them,” Rice said in an interview Monday. “This election was two years in the making, and we’re not going to be able to post-mortem it in five days.”

The other House Democrat who will represent Long Island next year — 3rd District Rep.-elect Thomas Suozzi, of Glen Cove — could not be reached for comment Monday.


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