House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has worked with a razor-thin majority in Congress since the current session began — and that advantage just became even smaller.
U.S. Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-TX) was sworn in on Friday following a narrow runoff victory, giving Pelosi and her Democratic caucus an effective majority of just three votes as the House is poised to consider critical bills in the coming weeks.
As the New York Post reports, Ellzey’s addition to the House means that if the speaker cannot unify at least 217 of the chamber’s 220 Democrats, a bill can be defeated with united GOP opposition.
Pelosi’s political grip loosens
The incoming lawmaker defeated Susan Wright, the widow of Rep. Ron Wright (R-TX), who died earlier this year after battling cancer and contracting COVID-19.
Although Wright received an endorsement from former President Donald Trump, Ellzey was backed by Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), a popular Texas politician who has been mentioned among possible future presidential contenders.
Some media outlets seized on Ellzey’s win as evidence that Trump’s influence within the Republican Party is waning and that his endorsement does not carry the same weight it did when he was in office.
GOP strategist Liz Mair compared a nod from the former president to a smartphone that becomes rapidly outdated as technology evolves.
“Yeah, it’ll still do stuff for you, and you’d rather have it than nothing, but it’s becoming more obsolete by the day,” she said, according to USA Today. “And its firepower looks increasingly weak when contrasted with newer models.”
“The Democrats went out to vote”
Of course, Trump and his allies are hoping that Mair is wrong as he plans to continue supporting primary candidates in races against those in the GOP who have spoken out against him or voted for impeachment following the Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill.
As for Ellzey’s victory over Wright, Trump spokesperson Liz Harrington blamed Democratic voters in the district, asserting: “The Democrats went out to vote and they all voted for Ellzey.”
The former president will face another test of his endorsement power next week in an Ohio special election to fill a seat vacated by former Rep. Steve Stivers, who resigned to take a job as a lobbyist.
Trump has endorsed Mike Carey, a coal lobbyist, and spent $350,000 from his political action committee to run ads supporting him in the race to represent Ohio’s heavily Republican 15th district.