Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is trying to consolidate her own power, not reform House Democrats, her chief challenger charged Monday as he worked to try to peel away her supporters.
Rep. Tim Ryan, the Ohio Democrat who is mounting a long-shot bid to unseat Mrs. Pelosi as House Democratic leader, said Mrs. Pelosi’s new list of reforms still leaves too much control in the hands of the leader — particularly when it comes to campaign politics.
He also said his fellow Democrats are concerned about rules that will be in place Wednesday when they vote on a leader for the next Congress.
“We must continue our efforts to decentralize the power in caucus so every member is a part of the team and plays a role in shaping our future,” Mr. Ryan said in a statement Monday afternoon.
He has acknowledged that unseating Mrs. Pelosi is an uphill battle, but he has won public support from Reps. Kathleen M. Rice of New York, Marcia L. Fudge of Ohio and Ed Perlmutter of Colorado, indicating at least a handful of members want wholesale changes to leadership.
“We need people who are willing to come out and say, ‘You know what, we need to try something different,’” Ms. Rice said Monday on CNN.
In an apparent nod to such concerns from her members, Mrs. Pelosi has announced plans for a restructured leadership and committee system that, among other things, would require certain positions to be held by members who have served less than five terms.
She also suggested that some Democratic members just elected to their third terms — Reps. Cheri Bustos of Illinois, Hakeem S. Jeffries of New York and Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania — serve as co-chairs of the party’s policy and communications committee.
On Monday, after Mr. Ryan issued his statement, Mrs. Pelosi’s office released a letter she wrote to Democratic colleagues saying she plans to include a member of the freshman class in party leadership.
At the same time, Mrs. Pelosi said she is supporting Rep. Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico, who chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, to continue in that role despite a lackluster performance from House candidates this year.
The nature of the DCCC chairmanship was one of the main objections Mr. Ryan raised Monday. He said it should be an elected position like other posts and that Democrats need to reduce the DCCC’s “command and control” approach in which Washington consultants are the ones making decisions about races in far-flung regions of the country.
Despite some potentially new faces at the table, longtime Reps. Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland and James E. Clyburn of South Carolina are also expected to remain as Mrs. Pelosi’s top lieutenants in the posts of minority whip and assistant Democratic leader, respectively.
Rep. Cedric L. Richmond, Louisiana Democrat and a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, raised concerns with some of Mrs. Pelosi’s proposals in a letter to fellow members, according to The Hill.
“As a general note, the proposal creates a number of positions that can only be filled by Members who have served fewer than three or four terms,” wrote Mr. Richmond, who was first elected to the U.S. House in 2010. “However, we have a number of Members who have been in Congress five or more terms, but have not been able to serve in leadership roles because of stagnation at the top of our leadership structure.”
Mr. Ryan said the party needs change after poor performances from House candidates the past four election cycles.
“I think even our members from the coastal areas recognize that we are not a national party right now,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” “We can’t keep saying it’s a communication issue. I mean, we’ve been saying it’s a communication issue since 2010,” he said. “We need a leader who can go into those congressional districts and be able to pull Trump voters back and energize those voters we need to show up at the polls.”
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