WASHINGTON — Among the many Democrats running for Congress in the Philadelphia region, support for one of their party's most influential voices — Nancy Pelosi — is no sure thing.

In interviews with 16 Democratic candidates, the vast majority wouldn't say whether they would endorse Pelosi for speaker of the House if the party takes control of the chamber in this fall's midterm elections. Several said they'd seek a change.

"Ideally, I would like to see somebody new take the reins," said Molly Sheehan, who is running in the Delaware County-based Fifth District. "I have a lot of respect for Nancy Pelosi's service over the years. I just think it's time for new leadership."

"Nothing against her, it's just time for a new voice," said Lindy Li, who is competing for the Democratic nomination in the same race.

And in South Jersey, State Sen. Jeff Van Drew said he hasn't "gotten into that" when asked about Pelosi, even as party leaders in Washington support him over two Democratic rivals.

"I think we've really got to take a good look at that," Van Drew said. "I would not say that I would support her. It would be something that I think we need to look at, and it very well could be that we look at new Democratic leadership and voices."

Only a few of the Democrats interviewed said unequivocally that they would endorse Pelosi. Most hedged — declining to back her, but offering fuzzy answers that left room to do so later.

Many said that they wanted to see who else runs, or that they are focused on their primary races.

The cautious responses reflect a dilemma facing Democratic candidates across the country. As the Democrats' House leader since 2003, Pelosi is respected on the left as a champion of liberal causes, a shrewd negotiator, and a prolific fund-raiser who has brought in nearly $660 million for fellow Democrats since 2002.

But the GOP has long painted the San Franciscan as an extreme liberal, using ominous ads to motivate  supporters and damage Democrats with swing voters. Even some Democrats have begun calling for younger, fresher leadership.

By keeping their distance, candidates in the Philadelphia area seem to be taking a page from fellow Democrat Conor Lamb, who answered GOP attacks this year by publicly vowing not to support Pelosi as he ran in a tough Southwestern Pennsylvania special election. Lamb won a narrow victory in a deep-red district.

None of the Democrats in the Philadelphia region faces such tough political terrain. In fact, many — such as those in Montgomery and Delaware Counties — are running on fairly blue turf. Yet most still wouldn't back Pelosi.

That also includes Democrats in tough swing districts who have received support from Pelosi's leadership team, such as Van Drew, Burlington County's Andy Kim, and Chester County's Chrissy Houlahan.

Their campaigns are the kind that could make the difference between a Republican or Democratic House.

"I'm just focused right now on this district and the needs of this district," said Kim, who is running against Rep. Tom MacArthur (R., N.J.). "I'm going to make the decision based on who is going to help this district most."

Houlahan said it would be "premature" to decide now.

"It's really interesting that I frequently get that question from the media and very, very rarely get that question from my community," she said. "My first and foremost responsibility with every vote that I take is to weigh all of my options."

The Democratic hesitation over Pelosi raises questions about whether she would reap the political rewards if her party takes the House, and over who might set the agenda in the chamber if not her.

For her part, Pelosi said this week that she is confident her party will win the majority — and that she intends to seek another term in charge.

"It's important that it not be five white guys at the table, no offense," Pelosi told the Boston Globe, referring to the presidency and top leadership positions in the House and Senate.

Pelosi, 78, is one of a trio of long-standing House Democratic leaders who are in their late 70s, an arrangement that has chafed some younger Democrats who have clamored for new voices and a chance to move up the ranks.

"I have a lot of respect for the leadership across the board in the Democratic Party, but I also think there's room for new voices," said Rachel Reddick, a former Navy attorney who is running in the Bucks County-based First District.

One of Reddick's Democratic rivals, Scott Wallace, said similarly, "We have some older leaders currently in the House. New blood is always a good thing." But he said he would wait to see who else runs before deciding.

Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D., N.M.), the head of the national Democratic congressional campaign arm, said Lamb's victory showed that the Pelosi-based attacks are losing potency and that voters care far more about economic issues.

When a reporter noted that Lamb had vocally broken with Pelosi, Lujan seemed to suggest that other Democrats would be allowed similar breathing room, saying that "candidates know their districts best." (Pelosi publicly praised Lamb on the day he was sworn into Congress.)

Republicans aren't dropping the issue, no matter what Democrats say.

"It was never about Nancy Pelosi personally, it's about what she represents, the agenda she represents, and that's the same agenda the Democrats represent," said Rep. Steve Stivers (R., Ohio), head of the Republican congressional campaign arm.

Even Democrats unsure whether to support Pelosi praised her leadership, and those who said they'd back her said her experience is still needed.

"The immediate challenge will be to begin negotiating with Trump and our Democratic leadership. Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Jim Clyburn are brilliant, experienced, tough, and are up to that sort of tough negotiation," said Joe Hoeffel, who is running in the Montgomery County-based Fourth District.

Tanzie Youngblood, running against Van Drew in South Jersey's Second District, said, "Nancy Pelosi is a wise woman. She's been around, she's got experience, and she knows what she's doing."

For the most part, however, Democrats dodged.

"Since I've not won the nomination nor the general election, I'm not going to say how I'll be voting on leadership," said State Rep. Madeleine Dean, also running in the Fourth District. "I know that Nancy Pelosi is a force and is brilliant, and I will most definitely consider her."