After leading the congressional Democrats for the last two decades, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has announced that she will not be running for party leadership again in the next Congress.
In an impassioned speech on the House floor Pelosi, the first woman to serve as speaker, reminisced about her time in leadership. She also called for a younger generation of Democrats to take control.
“The hour has come for a new generation to lead the Democratic Caucus that I greatly respect,” Pelosi said.
Democrats will be the minority in the House next November, this after Republicans narrowly squeaked out a majority during the midterm elections. Whoever takes Pelosi’s place in the next Congress will be the minority leader.
The news also follows a brutal attack on Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, who was attacked in their San Francisco home with a hammer. Paul was released from the hospital earlier this month after undergoing surgery for a skull fracture and treatment for injuries to his arm and hand.
Pelosi has not stated whether her husband’s attack had any influence on her decision not to run for leadership.
Calls for Pelosi to step down from her position have been coming for years, primarily pushed by center-right Democrats. In 2018, sixteen Democrats signed a letter opposing Pelosi for speaker, including Representative Tim Ryan, who ran against her for speaker in 2016.
Pelosi also faced critiques from the left. In 2020, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told the Intercept that it was time for new leadership in Congress. But she added that no one on the left was prepared to pick up that mantle yet.
Pelosi has remained popular with Black voters, a key base of the Democratic party. In the most recent YouGov poll, she had a more than 71 percent approval rating amongst Black Americans.
Who in the party will be able to fill Pelosi’s shoes come the next Congress remains unknown.