House Democrats keep minority leader

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democrats re-elected Nancy Pelosi as their leader Wednesday, ratifying the status quo in a changing Washington despite widespread frustration over the party’s direction.

That disenchantment manifested itself in 63 lawmakers supporting Pelosi’s opponent, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, in the secret-ballot vote. That was by far the largest defection Pelosi has suffered since she began leading House Democrats in 2002.

Still, the California lawmaker had declared ahead of time that more than two-thirds of the caucus was supporting her, and she won almost exactly two-thirds with 134 votes. It was a testament to her vote-counting skills and to her ability to hang onto power even in dark days for Democrats, as they confront a capital that will be fully controlled by the GOP next year.

“I have a special spring in my step today because this opportunity is a special one, to lead the House Democrats, bring everyone together as we go forward,” Pelosi said after the vote, appearing elated in her victory.

She disputed the suggestion that she might be concerned about the defections she suffered. “They weren’t defections, I had two-thirds of the vote,” Pelosi said.

And she insisted Democrats would rebound. “We know how to win elections. We’ve done it in the past, we will do it again.”

Supporters said the 76-year-old Pelosi was their best bet to confront a President Donald Trump from the minority after Democrats picked up only a half-dozen seats in the House, far fewer than anticipated and well below Pelosi’s predictions. Republicans are on track to hold at least 240 seats in the House next year, while Democrats will have 194.

Pelosi’s top two lieutenants who’ve served by her side for years also were re-elected Wednesday, both by acclimation. Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer, 77, will continue to serve as Democratic whip, and South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, 76, will continue in the No. 3 spot as assistant leader.

Rep. Joe Crowley, of New York, became conference chairman, a term-limited post vacated by Rep. Xavier Becerra, of California. The position of conference vice chairman was hotly contested between two Californians, Linda Sanchez and Barbara Lee. Sanchez prevailed narrowly with 98 votes to 96 for Lee.

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