Pelosi or Ryan? House Dems pick sides in leader fight

Dispirited Democrats in the U.S. House are on the verge of selecting a leader after an election where they made small gains but nowhere near the number they had hoped to headed into November’s election.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, who has been at the caucus helm since 2003, is being challenged by Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, who is entering his eighth term. He argues the party’s recent electoral funk — Republicans have controlled the House since 2011 — demands a change at the top.

Minnesota has five of the 194 Democrats who will be in the U.S. House in January. Here is where a few of them stand, based on recent interviews with MPR News:

Rep. Betty McCollum, 4th District, intends to back Pelosi: “I’ve been asking for changes in our caucus and I have been talking to folks. And I think we’re getting the changes that we want to have happened. Mr. Ryan entered very, very late. Some of the ideas he has come up with are ideas that I and a group of people have been promoting or pushing and we have gotten agreement from Leader Pelosi to open up the way the caucus is run so it is more open and there is more participation. … I think Leader Pelosi has gotten a very clear message, a very clear message, and I think when we come back in we are going to see a lot of changes. So at this time I will be voting for Leader Pelosi. She has really gotten the message it is not going to be business as usual.”

Rep. Keith Ellison, 5th District, is also sticking with Pelosi:  “I think Nancy Pelosi has done a wonderful job for our caucus. She has been a leader and even now is trying to adjust to make sure she meets the moment and responds to the emerging issues facing us. At the same time I love Tim Ryan. He’s a great guy. He has Midwestern sort of sensibilities, which we really need. At the end of the day, I’m looking toward Nancy. But you know, I’m happy that Tim ran because he’s helping provoke a conversation that we probably will all benefit from.”

Rep. Collin Peterson, 7th District, intends to vote for Pelosi: “She’s not the problem. If we have a problem, it’s the people in the caucus that cause the problem by pushing some of these things that cause a backlash in districts like mine. This is not Nancy pushing things, it’s the caucus pushing it. They need to look in the mirror and I’ve told them that. I don’t think changing leaders is going to solve the problems we have. Frankly, until we get a redistricting plan that put a lot of our people into competitive districts, you know, I don’t see that we’re going to get any change.”

Update:

Rep. Tim Walz, 1st District, says he will back Ryan: “We’re simply not resonating with the folks we should be, folks who I believe can benefit best from our policies, folks who for years understood that we stood by working people, that we stood by those things that made strong communities and invested in rural communities. And they spoke with their votes, loudly, that they didn’t feel that they could trust Democratic candidates from the top of the ticket on down.”

Update:

Rep. Rick Nolan, 8th District, will back Pelosi, a spokeswoman said Tuesday evening.

The other two delegation Democrats, 1st District Rep. Tim Walz and 8th District Rep. Rick Nolan, haven’t made their hasn’t made his intentions known.