Pelosi, potential challenger Fudge hold 'candid' discussion

Pelosi, potential challenger Fudge hold 'candid' discussion
© Greg Nash

House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiFreedom Caucus calls on leadership to include wall funding, end to 'catch and release' in funding bill Black Caucus huddles as talk of term limits heats up Insurgent Dems amplify push for term limits on party leaders MORE (D-Calif.) huddled Friday with a potential rival for Speaker, Rep. Marcia FudgeMarcia Louise FudgeInsurgent Dems amplify push for term limits on party leaders Nancy Pelosi's incredible comeback Education, success do not merit moral impunity MORE (D-Ohio), as the Democratic infighting intensified over who will lead their newly won majority next year.

Neither Pelosi nor Fudge disclosed details of their 45-minute conversation, which took place in Pelosi’s office in the Capitol. The meeting was brokered by Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsBlack Caucus huddles as talk of term limits heats up Trump visit to Baltimore called off, event relocated to White House House panel issues scathing report on 'entirely preventable' Equifax data breach MORE (D-Md.), among the most powerful figures in the Congressional Black Caucus and a strong supporter of Pelosi. Both Fudge and Cummings have chaired the CBC in previous years.

“We had a candid and respectful conversation," Pelosi said in a terse statement.

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Fudge is being lobbied heavily by a group of anti-Pelosi insurgents to challenge Pelosi, who’s been at the top of the party since 2003.

Before the meeting, Fudge, walking down the hallway to the Capitol, told The Hill she had not made any decision yet about jumping into the Speaker’s race against Pelosi.  

Del. Stacey PlaskettStacey PlaskettPelosi, potential challenger Fudge hold 'candid' discussion Bezos honored for public service at DC gala Dem lawmakers, activists get #PayBlackWomen trending MORE, a Democrat from the Virgin Islands who was walking with her, quickly interjected: “I think she would be great."

Fudge later told reporters she would make her decision about the race sometime after Thanksgiving. 

The timeline leaves little room for Fudge to rally support before the caucus leadership votes, which are scheduled for Nov. 28.

While Pelosi foes are propping up Fudge as a viable candidate who could make history as the first black Speaker in U.S. history, Pelosi continues to roll out endorsements from Fudge’s base, the Congressional Black Caucus, which Fudge previous led.

Members of the CBC backing Pelosi include senior Reps. John LewisJohn LewisMerkel named Harvard commencement speaker Dems vow quick action to bolster voting rights upon taking power Dems demand info on law enforcement's use of Amazon facial recognition tool MORE (D-Ga.), Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), Karen BassKaren Ruth BassBlack Caucus huddles as talk of term limits heats up Police investigate swastika graffiti in Los Angeles Pelosi flexes political power in Speaker’s race MORE (D-Calif.), Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersBlack Caucus huddles as talk of term limits heats up On The Money: Markets roiled by trade tensions | Rally on hopes of Fed pause on rate hikes | Senate sends two-week spending measure to Trump | Consumer bureau pick confirmed | Trade deficit at highest level since 2008 Black Caucus chairman pushes back against committee term limits MORE (D-Calif.) and James Clyburn (D-S.C.), a close friend to Fudge who suggested Thursday that her challenge of Pelosi could harm his bid to become majority whip.

On Friday, Rep. Andre CarsonAndré CarsonPelosi, potential challenger Fudge hold 'candid' discussion Women's March leader defends attending event where speaker made anti-semitic remarks Jewish GOP group calls on Dem lawmakers to resign over Farrakhan remarks MORE (D-Ind.), yet another CBC member, backed Pelosi.

“Pelosi put the first Muslim on” the Intelligence Committee. “I’m Team Pelosi,” Carson said, referring to himself, the second Muslim American ever elected to Congress.

“100 percent overjoyed to support Nancy Pelosi. Marcia hasn’t said she’s going to run for anything, and I’m for Pelosi,” added Rep. Frederica WilsonFrederica Patricia WilsonOcasio-Cortez: John Kelly is a coward for refusing to apologize to Dem lawmaker John Kelly’s exit raises concerns about White House future John Kelly to leave White House at year's end MORE (D-Fla.), another Black Caucus member and a veteran of the civil rights movement.

Wilson added that “when you find somebody who can deliver this many new members to a caucus and who carries the entire caucus on her back,” that person deserves to be Speaker.

Pelosi and her allies are arguing that she’s the best qualified to take on President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Memo: Ayers decision casts harsh light on Trump NASA offers to show Stephen Curry evidence from moon landings Freedom Caucus calls on leadership to include wall funding, end to 'catch and release' in funding bill MORE and Republican leaders in the GOP-controlled Senate, since she was previously Speaker under a Republican president and has experience at the negotiation table.

“That’s her ... strongest case,” said Rep. John YarmuthJohn Allen YarmuthPresident's ability to nix spending limited: GAO Pelosi, potential challenger Fudge hold 'candid' discussion Top House Budget Dem predicts a 'nonconfrontational' committee under Dem leadership MORE (D-Ky.), another Pelosi supporter.

“At this dangerous moment in history — and I believe that it is — we need someone battle-tested, someone who has been in the room where it happens with the president and the top leadership,” echoed Rep. Jan SchakowskyJanice (Jan) Danoff SchakowskyPelosi, potential challenger Fudge hold 'candid' discussion Incoming Michigan Dem will not back Pelosi The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by T-Mobile — Democratic race for Speaker turns nasty MORE (D-Ill.), a strong Pelosi ally. “Without her, there would be no woman at that small table.”

The male-dominated insurgents have heard those criticisms loud and clear, and in recent days they’ve promoted the notion of elevating a woman to the top spot. Fudge was the first to announce publicly that she’s interested.

Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) John RyanOn The Money: Trump touts China actions day after stock slide | China 'confident' on new trade deal | GM chief meets lawmakers to calm anger over cuts | Huawei CFO arrested GM chief meets lawmakers to calm anger over cuts GM lobbyists go into full crisis mode over layoffs MORE (D-Ohio), who challenged Pelosi unsuccessfully in 2016, is among Fudge’s top boosters. He’s pressing his fellow Buckeye to jump in the race, offering to lead her whip operation. Not only would Fudge be the first African American Speaker, Ryan said, she’d also bring a Midwestern voice to a leadership table that’s tilted heavily in favor of coastal figures.

“If you look at the leadership races right now, there is nobody in leadership anywhere from New Mexico to the East Coast,” Ryan said.

“I couldn’t be more excited about the fact she’s entertaining this,” he continued. “The country needs to come together, our caucus need to come together — we need to heal. And Marcia Fudge, in my estimation, is one of the people who could make that happen.”

Updated at 1:27 p.m.