The Washington D.C. rumor mill has indicated that, rather than be relegated to the congressional minority again, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will either retire or relinquish her leadership role if the Republicans succeed in reclaiming majority control of the House of Representatives.
That would open up a vacancy in House Democratic leadership, and reports have suggested that Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, is making a play to bypass other prominent House Democrats and be chosen by the caucus as Pelosi’s replacement, the Conservative Brief reported.
Schiff laying groundwork for leadership bid
It was in late July that The Washington Post delivered a “scoop” on how Rep. Schiff was making moves to position himself to make a bid to replace Speaker Pelosi at the start of the next congressional term in January, either as Speaker if Democrats retained control or as Minority Leader if the GOP won a majority of seats.
Schiff was reported to have quietly begun “consolidating support” among the Democratic delegation from California and had made “overtures” seeking support from the race-centric Democratic caucuses — Black, Hispanic, and Asian Pacific American — as well as the aptly named Progressive Caucus and more centrist New Democrat Coalition.
The Post noted that Schiff’s outreach had been met with “surprise and skepticism” from some, including among some of his fellow Californians, and even some consternation in certain camps, as his bid risked provoking infighting and splintering in and between the various special interest groups that make up the House Democratic Caucus.
Schiff won’t answer questions on his leadership intentions
The Hill reported in mid-August that Schiff, when asked about his purported intention to try and replace Pelosi, essentially dodged the question by praising the current Speaker and insisting that he was focused solely on helping his fellow Democrats win in November in sufficient numbers to retain or expand the party’s slim majority.
The outlet noted that Speaker Pelosi, when faced with a challenge to her continued leadership in 2018, had vowed to only serve two more terms in leadership before stepping aside for somebody else to head up the Democratic caucus.
Schiff, who rose to national prominence through his vociferous, if not always accurate, opposition to former President Donald Trump, is reported to be a rather prolific fundraiser on behalf of the Democratic Party, as Pelosi herself has been, which could grant him a slight advantage over other likely candidates to be Pelosi’s successor in leadership.
Other likely contenders stand in Schiff’s way
Politico reported in late September that, according to anonymous sources, Schiff was continuing to quietly hold meetings with fellow House Democrats to build support for his leadership bid, even though he has yet to formally announce those alleged plans.
Keep in mind that Schiff is not the only contender to be Pelosi’s replacement, and to be successful he would have to leapfrog several other prominent Democrats already in leadership who seem unlikely to simply step aside and clear a path for him to do so.
That includes Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), currently chair of the House Democratic Caucus who has long been viewed as Pelosi’s most likely successor, as well as Reps. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), currently House Majority Leader, and Jim Clyburn (D-SC), currently House Majority Whip, who “have not ruled out leadership bids themselves” in the absence of Pelosi, according to Politico.
Bear in mind also that, regardless of all of the swirling rumors, Pelosi herself has yet to formally announce or even strongly indicate that she will abide by her 2018 vow and step aside, whether altogether with resignation from Congress or simply from the leadership team, after the 2022 midterm elections, in which she is running for yet another term in office.