Pelosi’s defections expected to be more than Ryan’s: Disgruntled Dems could climb to double digits

Speaker Paul Ryan is expected to see just a handful of defections on Tuesday when the Republican caucus elects a leader in the House.

And while the Wisconsin lawmaker will likely cruise to another term, the real drama in the lower chamber may occur across the aisle when Democrats choose their leader.

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In the wake of Donald Trump’s improbable win in November, The Hill is reporting that Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi “could see defections from disgruntled Democrats climb into the double digits.”

Rep. Ryan Costello, R-Pa., told the online news source that may be the race to watch.

“I’d anticipate the Speaker passing the 218-vote threshold comfortably,” Costello said. “He’s been transparent, inclusive, and from my vantage point attentive to all members regardless of their ideological bent.”

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“I’d expect the more interesting story will be the number of defections on the other side of the aisle,” he added.

More from The Hill on Pelosi’s reign as Democrat leader:

Pelosi, a San Francisco liberal icon and first female Speaker of the House, has led her party with an iron fist for the last 14 years. But each recent cycle has seen at least a handful of dissenters bucking the California Democrat by casting their votes elsewhere.

That number peaked at 20 in 2011, after an election thrashing that shifted control of the House — and the Speaker’s gavel — to the Republicans, prompting then-Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) to launch a rare challenge to Pelosi’s leadership perch.

More recently, those protest votes have plummeted. In 2013, just five Democrats — all of them conservative-leaning Blue Dogs — declined to back Pelosi on the floor. And the number dropped again to four in 2015, when Reps. Jim Cooper (Tenn.), Daniel Lipinski (Ill.), Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) and outgoing Rep. Gwen Graham (Fla.) all favored other figures in symbolic opposition to Pelosi’s long reign.


For the record, only four Democrats are on record saying they will defy Pelosi in her leadership bid, although the number is expected to climb.

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Tom Tillison


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