While she has consistently been a divisive figure on Capitol Hill, there is no denying that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has been a fixture of Democratic Party politics for decades.
As she approaches the expected end of her lengthy career in public office, her party appears to be having trouble lining up a successor.
Aging party leaders eye the exit
According to reports, some progressive pundits are expressing concerns about how they will press on after next year’s midterm elections if the longtime Democratic leader is no longer in Congress.
The 81-year-old speaker has described her fight for the Biden administration’s agenda as the “culmination” of her career. As a result, many D.C. insiders are predicting that she is in the twilight of her time in office.
Of course, she appears to be in no hurry to make her exit. Recent reports suggested that she plans to mount a bid for re-election next year and could push to remain in leadership after the upcoming midterms.
She might be signaling another campaign as a way to avoid the perception that she is currently a lame-duck politician. Her party needs all the help it can get ahead of an election season widely expected to result in massive Democratic Party losses.
Further complicating matters is the fact that, like Pelosi, most of her most logical replacements are in their 80s.
“Pelosi always comes through”
For his part, Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) has signaled a desire to make his exit from Congress, asserting: “At some point, I want to go to a rocking chair. At some point, I want to have more time to play golf.”
The age issue has apparently sparked a crisis of sorts within the Democratic Party’s ranks, extending to the White House where many voters believe that President Joe Biden is too old to run for a second term.
A few names are commonly mentioned among the next generation of party leaders, including Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Pramila Jayapal (D-CA).
Regardless of which elected official ultimately picks up the mantle from Pelosi, Biden aide Steve Ricchetti is among the prominent Democrats who have made it clear that he or she will have big shoes to fill.
“Speaker Pelosi always comes through,” he said. “She was the heart of our effort to pass infrastructure through the House, and there’s just no one like the Speaker.”