WASHINGTON — New and old Democrats who will soon control the U.S. House face their first big decision this week: whether Nancy Pelosi should have a second run as speaker.
Several in the Philadelphia area have either openly opposed their party's longtime House leader or declined to take a firm position. But an internal caucus vote Wednesday will force them to make a choice about who should become the face of Democratic power in Washington and guide their party's strategy and agenda as they grapple with President Trump and the Republican-led Senate.
Pelosi is almost certain to win this week's internal Democratic vote, but she has little margin for error in a later House vote in which members of both parties will vote on who should lead the chamber. If enough Democrats defect, they could block her.
Here is a rundown of where Democrats in the Philadelphia area stood Monday afternoon — though the situation remained fluid, with Pelosi seemingly closing in on the votes she needs and her critics seeking negotiations, signaling that they may realize they can't defeat her.
Pelosi's supporters argue that she has been an energetic leader and shrewd strategist who held her party together, including during recent battles over the Affordable Care Act and Republican tax cuts. Her critics see her as the polarizing face of a stagnant Democratic power structure that includes three House leaders who are all 78 or older, and have held their posts for years.
Rep.-elect Jeff Van Drew — The state senator from the Second District in South Jersey vowed to oppose Pelosi while running in a tight swing district and has stuck to that pledge. Van Drew was one of 15 Democrats who signed a letter opposing her. "She's a very able politician, but the reality is sometimes it's good to have a different look, a change, we do that all the time," he said in an interview this month.
Rep. Brendan Boyle: Over the summer Boyle, like many Democrats, declined to take a clear stand, saying the focus should be on House elections. But he joined Pelosi on stage in Washington at the Democrats' victory party on Election Night and the next day endorsed her. "Speaking as a proud Eagles fan, I think it's pretty hard to argue you should fire the coach after you just won the Super Bowl," he said in an interview.
Rep.-elect Madeleine Dean: Pelosi "has the experience, compassion, intellect, & skill to lead us during this crucial time. She's demonstrated her great dedication to our democrat ideals and should be our Speaker," tweeted Dean, an incoming Democrat from Montgomery County. She also wrote this column for the Inquirer Monday further explaining her support for Pelosi.
Rep. Dwight Evans: The Philadelphian has consistently backed Pelosi and reiterated that support Monday morning. "I think I understand something about leadership and I think I've watched her in action, I've watched the leadership she has done" on health care and taxes, he said in an interview.
Of note: Evans sent out a public letter Nov. 19 supporting Pelosi. Boyle posted one the next day. Pelosi's team blasted both to reporters. Each Philadelphian is jockeying for a seat on the powerful Ways and Means Committee — and only one (at most) is likely to land it.
Rep. Donald Norcross: The Camden County Democrat offered his support immediately after Election Day. "We're shortly going to be talking about the third most powerful person in the United States, and the fact of the matter is Nancy has more experience than any other person," he said. "She has just steered our caucus to being the majority, I think she is worthy of another term."
Rep.-elect Chrissy Houlahan: The Chester County Democrat told CNN she is "leaning towards" supporting Pelosi but "there are a lot of moving parts in leadership and many decisions that need to be made. … I'm a deliberative person so I'm working hard to understand what all of my options are, how I can best serve my constituency." Houlahan is also vying to become one of three chairs of House Democrats' messaging arm, arguing that the large freshman class deserves representation. She left her position open during her campaign in Pennsylvania's Sixth Congressional District.
Rep.-elect Andy Kim: During his tough campaign in South Jersey's Third District, Kim called for "new leadership on both sides of the aisle" in a comment widely interpreted as a repudiation of Pelosi — a view he did nothing to refute. But in Washington earlier this month Kim told New Jersey reporters "I'm not making any commitments…. I certainly wanted a new generation of leadership, and that's certainly still something I want."
U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon: In an interview shortly after Election Day, Scanlon, of Delaware County, said she has "mad respect" for Pelosi's leadership but had not made a firm decision. "As far as I know she is still the only person running, so right now it's not even a question," she said.
Rep.-elect Susan Wild: The incoming congresswoman from the Lehigh Valley told her hometown newspaper that she wants to see a succession plan, no matter whom the speaker becomes. "I want to know what the plan is for a year down the road," she told the Allentown Morning Call.