WASHINGTON — A top House Democrat said Wednesday it was time for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and her two long-time deputies to step aside and make way for a younger generation of leaders.
Rep. Linda Sanchez, the highest-ranking Latina in the House, first called for “generational change” last fall, but her fresh comments on Wednesday come at a time when Democrats are increasingly dissatisfied with Pelosi and uncertain about who could emerge as a possible successor.
Sanchez — currently the vice chair of the Democratic conference, the No. 5 leadership slot — also said she wants to be part of any “transition” to a new lineup.
“I think it’s time for that generational change,” Sanchez told reporters Wednesday. “I want to be part of that transition, because I don’t intend to stay in Congress until I’m in my 70s.”
Pelosi is 78 years old. The No. 2 and No. 3 House Democrats, Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland and Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, are also in their late 70s.
Sanchez suggested the trio’s continued grip on power was stymieing younger Democrats.
“I want to help create opportunities for some of the newer members, who have a lot to contribute but don’t necessarily always get the opportunity,” she said.
Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill offered a terse response: “House Democrats are focused on winning in November and if you are rowing in the opposite direction, you are only helping Republicans.”
Pelosi has made it clear that she wants to be speaker again if Democrats win a majority in the mid-term elections. What’s not clear is if she will have enough support, since some Democrats are campaigning on a pledge to oppose her if they win.
Sanchez’s dig also comes after Rep. Joe Crowley, a New York Democrat once seen as a possible successor to Pelosi, lost his primary in a stunning upset last month. Crowley’s defeat raised new questions about who could emerge as a successor to Pelosi, since other Democrats do not have the same broad support across the caucus.
Sanchez said she is considering a bid for Crowley’s current role, chairman of the Democratic conference, the No. 4 position.
“I think I’d do a good job as chair of the caucus but I am not prepared to make a decision,” she said. “I’m still talking with colleagues.”