There has been ample speculation recently about whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will soon retire, given both the likelihood of Republicans reclaiming majority control as well as an unofficial vow she previously made that this would be her last term as a leader in Congress.
Yet, despite all indicators pointing toward her impending exit, it was revealed this week that Pelosi will run for re-election at least once more in the upcoming 2022 election, the Washington Examiner reported.
By all accounts, that is a politically strategic move on the speaker’s part, and it remains entirely unclear if she would actually stick around as leader of the House Democrats for another two years or announce her resignation after the elections and hand over the reins of leadership to somebody else.
Not quite ready to bail
The news that Speaker Pelosi would be sticking around at least until after the 2022 midterm elections came in a lengthy CNN report that seemed to portray the 82-year-old congresswoman as being trapped between two difficult decisions — whether to stay or go — in a constantly evolving and increasingly no-win situation.
She has ultimately decided to stay — at least for the time being — in large part to avoid being seen as abandoning her party and jumping ship ahead of the presumptive GOP takeover of the House in the coming term, as well as to avoid spooking big Democratic donors who could withhold the funding the party desperately needs for the impending midterm elections cycle.
Another likely factor in her decision to run for re-election again is that there is no clear successor ready to take her place at the top of the House Democratic caucus, and her early exit prior to the elections would undoubtedly cause distractions for the party as various contenders fought amongst each other for that role.
All of that said, however, the CNN report did note that Speaker Pelosi no longer wields the same sort of power she once did in terms of keeping her caucus in line, as evidenced by the veritable internal civil war between the party’s relatively moderate centrists and far-left progressives.
On top of that is the fact that Pelosi had previously promised her caucus that this current term would be her last, part of an unofficial deal struck to ensure her continued leadership when Democrats took back control of the House in the 2018 elections and there had been some resistance to Pelosi resuming her prior position as speaker.
In fact, Roll Call reported in November 2020 that Pelosi had reaffirmed that vow in the aftermath of those elections in which her caucus barely held on to a slim majority in the House.
“I don’t want to undermine any leverage I may have, but I made the statement,” Pelosi said at that time in reference to the agreement reached in 2018 to ward off her challengers for the speaker’s gavel.
Power and control
Leverage is indeed the name of the game here, and Pelosi would have given up virtually all that she retained if she had announced that she wasn’t running for re-election and would be a “lame-duck” leader for the next year.
Thus, rather than create a situation where her authority could be challenged and disrespected even more than it already has been by the younger generation of progressive Democrats, Pelosi will be mounting yet another re-election campaign and hanging around for at least another year in a bid to keep her caucus in line for just a little while longer.