Pelosi on the ropes? Democratic House losses could open door to progressive challenger to Speaker

So far, the GOP has flipped 5 Democratic House seats, based on current projections

Published: November 4, 2020 6:34pm

Updated: November 5, 2020 5:35pm

Incumbent Democrat losses to Republicans in a number of House races opens the door to a possible progressive challenger to Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker in the next session of Congress.

Pelosi, who has served in the House since 1987, avoided a challenge for the speakership in 2018, but hanging on this time could be difficult, given how many seats Democratic incumbents have lost so far as results continue to come in around the country. Despite the losses, Democrats are projected to hold their House majority.

Democratic Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell lost her seat in Florida's 26th Congressional District to Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez.

Freshman New York Rep. Max Rose, who represents the 11th District, lost to Republican Nicole Malliotakis.

Republican Michelle Fischbach defeated Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, in Minnesota's 7th District.

Democratic freshman Rep. Abby Finkenauer has lost her seat to Republican Ashley Hinson in Iowa's 1st District.

Freshman Democrat Rep. Abigail Spanberger, a moderate, was trailing Republican Nick Freitas in Virginia's 7th District until Thursday. 

Democratic Rep. Conor Lamb was behind in Pennsylvania's 17th District race against Republican Sean Parnell but has slightly taken the lead. He has declared victory but Parnell has not conceded. 

Democratic Rep. Kendra Horn lost her seat in Oklahoma's 5th District to state Sen. Stephanie Bice.

Democratic Rep. Donna Shalala, former Health and Human Services Secretary, lost to her Republican challenger, broadcast journalist María Elvira Salazar, in Florida's 27th District.

Some progressive members of Congress, such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, expressed disappointment with some of the results on election night. She replied to a Twitter post about President Trump winning the state of Florida, saying that there are Democrat "vulnerabilities" with Hispanic voters.

"I won't comment much on tonight's results as they are evolving and ongoing, but I will say we've been sounding the alarm about Dem vulnerabilities w/ Latinos for a long, long time. There is a strategy and a path, but the necessary effort simply hasn't been put in," she wrote.

Each member of "the Squad" of progressive Democratic lawmakers, Ocasio-Cortez, Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley, won reelection.

In November 2018, Ocasio-Cortez told CNN she would back Pelosi, a California Democrat, for speaker as long as she remained the "most progressive candidate" in the running.

"So long as Leader Pelosi remains the most progressive candidate for Speaker, she can count on my support," she said at the time. 


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