WASHINGTON — Eleven Ohio Democrats have signed a letter backing House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi for House speaker, even as one Democrat in Ohio’s U.S. House delegation has signed a letter opposing her and another has threatened to run against her.
In an open letter from former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, Reps. Joyce Beatty of Jefferson Township and Marcy Kaptur of Toledo, former Reps. Mary Jo Kilroy and Betty Sutton, Ohio Democratic Chairman David Pepper and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, the group argues that Pelosi “will hit the ground running” if elected speaker and will battle a GOP agenda that “has given tax breaks to billionaires and special interests at the expense of hardworking families and the middle class.”
Pelosi, the group argues, “has worked tireless to ensure Ohioans are able to have access to affordable health care, negotiate for a higher wage, and secure a dignified retirement.”
“Leader Pelosi will continue President Barack Obama’s legacy of economic growth, job creation, and progress,” the group wrote.
Their stance is at odds with Rep. Tim Ryan, a Niles Democrat who ran against Pelosi for minority leader in 2016, as well as Rep. Marcia Fudge, a Cleveland Democrat who is pondering opposing Pelosi for speaker. Ryan signed a letter this week with 15 fellow House Democrats calling for new House leadership. Fudge did not sign that letter.
Fudge said she will decide whether to run after Thanksgiving. Democrats will vote on their nominee for speaker Nov. 28 and the full House will vote for speaker Jan. 3. While Pelosi could easily win the former vote, she will need 218 votes from the full House. Currently, Democrats are expected to have 233 House seats, meaning Pelosi can’t lose more than 15 votes from her fellow Democrats.
The letter was also signed by Anthony Eliopoulos, the president of the College Democrats of Ohio; former Ohio Senate Minority Leader Eric Kearney; Daniel Rajaiah, an executive member of the Ohio Democratic Party, and Harinder Singh, the president of the Cleveland College Democrats.
In an interview, Strickland said he signed the letter because he believes Pelosi “is a strong effective leader.”
“We would never have had Obamacare without Nancy’s determination and persistence,” he said, saying Pelosi “has the experience and the knowledge and the skill to get it done.”
He called Ryan a “dear friend” and said he has “great respect” for Fudge.
“My position is in no way an indication that I don’t have respect for them,” the former governor and congressman said. “I just have a different opinion about what’s needed.”
He said he was “somewhat puzzled” that people were opposing her without putting forth an alternative.
“We’ve got to have a speaker,” he said, “And if it’s not a Democrat, it will be a Republican. So I’m a little puzzled about the explanation for what these dissidents are doing, and what’s the rationale behind it other than new leadership. It seems not well thought out to me.”