WASHINGTON — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi defeated Ohio Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan to retain her post as the top elected Democrat in the House during a closed-door meeting Wednesday.
The final vote tally was 134-63 for Pelosi, meaning she matched her prediction that she’d retain the support of two-thirds of House Democrats.
Immediately after the news broke, Ryan congratulated Pelosi in a statement, and said he ran because “November taught us that changes were necessary.”
“I am proud that my bid for Democratic Leader pushed our members to have these tough family discussions about our future and how we win back the majority in 2018,” Ryan said in the statement.
“I am also pleased to see that Leader Pelosi will adopt my proposal to expand leadership by creating a position for Freshman members and to bring back the power to the Committees by creating Vice-Chair/Vice- Ranking Member positions.”
Pelosi, who has run the House Democratic caucus for the past 14 years, was expected to remain the top elected leader, but she’s fending off a challenge from Ryan, who says Democrats failed to connect to people who backed Donald Trump and it’s time to shakeup the leadership.
“I think I could make a big difference pulling those Trump voters back because those are the voters who voted for me,” Ryan told reporters Tuesday evening.
House Democrats voted with a secret ballot contest. Although there has been some grumbling in recent years about the refusal of top House Democratic leaders, who are mostly in their 70’s, to provide chances for newer members, this race features Ryan taking those grievances public.
Ryan and Pelosi called, emailed and met with their colleagues to make their pitches on why they should lead a demoralized caucus, which is still searching for a strategy for dealing with President-elect Trump and a strengthened Republican-led Congress next year.
Ryan, 43, said Pelosi, a California Democrat who is 76, has limited appeal in the heartland and other working-class areas where Democrats lost badly this fall.