Incoming Kansas 3rd Congressional District Rep. Sharice Davids announced on Saturday that she would vote for current House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to reassume the role of Speaker of the House.
Davids and other incoming freshmen will be crucial to Pelosi’s bid to retake the gavel, which she gave up in 2011 after a wave of Republican wins in the 2010 midterms gave the GOP control of the House. To become Speaker, Pelosi will have to earn a majority of the votes of the members of the Democratic House caucus when they vote for leadership on Wednesday. Pelosi will then have to earn a majority of the votes of the full House membership when the body convenes Jan. 3. Pelosi can likely only lose the votes of 16 Democratic representatives in that full House vote, and a group of 21 Democratic representatives had indicated plans to vote against her as of last week.
During the campaign, Davids was non-committal when asked about whether she would vote to support returning Pelosi to the speakership. Responding to the Kansas City Star after she’d won the Democratic nomination in August, Davids said “As the only woman to ever serve as speaker of the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi has shown tremendous leadership of the Democratic party,” but said that she would work “with the Democratic caucus to select the best leaders to guide us going forward.”
During an appearance on KCUR’s Up To Date in October, host Steve Kraske asked Davids about whether she would vote for Pelosi as speaker. Davids responded that “I want new leadership across the board” and that both parties’ leadership in recent years had contributed to a broken culture in the capital.
“So you wouldn’t vote for Nancy Pelosi again as the Democratic leader?” Kraske then asked.
“Well, I’m not going to vote for anybody who doesn’t lay out a clear plan for what we need to do to break away from the inaction in Congress and the disfunction,” Davids responded.
“Does that suggest you could vote for Nancy Pelosi again if she lays out that clear plan?” Kraske pressed.
“I think that we just need leadership that’s going to do something different than what we’ve seen,” Davids said.
In the statement posted on her campaign website over the weekend, Davids indicated that Pelosi’s commitment to change the House rules in ways that would make it easier to bring legislation to the House floor and give the public more time to read bills before they’re voted on, among other items, were enough to pass her “something different” test.
Davids also noted that the lack of a challenger to Pelosi among the Democratic House caucus made the decision more clear.
“Kansans didn’t elect me to go to Washington to play political games and take symbolic protest votes,” she wrote. “They elected me to get things done. The best way to move forward as we face unprecedented threats to our healthcare access and to our democracy is to unite behind the person who is clearly going to become the next speaker, and who, whatever differences we may have, will stand up to those threats.”
Republicans say vote amounts to breaking campaign pledge
Though Davids never promised to vote against Pelosi during the 2018 campaign, Johnson County Republican Party chair Dave Myers pounced on Davids’ announcement as evidence that the freshman legislator had “broken a major campaign pledge to vote for new leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives.”
In a statement issued to the press Sunday, Myers said that by voting for Pelosi, Davids “has chosen to go against the will of her constituents and side with the liberal wing of her party in Washington. Throughout the election, Republicans here in Kansas warned voters that Sharice is a liberal partisan who would happily support Pelosi for Speaker and her extreme agenda, and so far we’ve been proven right.”
The final tally in this month’s election had Davids defeating four-term incumbent Rep. Kevin Yoder 53-44 with 3 percent of voters casting ballots for Libertarian Chris Clemmons.