NY-22 Minute: Brindisi Will Not Support Nancy Pelosi for Speaker By Luke Perry
Anthony Brindisi announced today he will not support Nancy Pelosi for Speaker. “I think it’s time for new Democratic leadership in Washington,” Brindisi told Igor Bobic of Huff Post.
"It's something that I decided early on by talking to voters in the district," Brindisi told Mark Weiner of Syracuse.com. "I believe it's time for new leadership on both sides of the aisle. I've always been an independent voice in Albany, and I will continue to do that in Washington."
In March, I analyzed the advantages and disadvantages of this move, following Conor Lamb’s victory in PA-18, some of which I'll revisit now.
One of the major implications from Lamb’s victory was that running as a moderate in a Republican district is effective in this political climate. Donald Trump won PA-18 by 20 points in 2016. The margin was even slimmer in NY-22 (15 points). This is great news for Democrats, hopeful this election cycle about retaking the House, while also presenting a challenge as divisions between progressives and centrists deepen.
Part of what Lamb did was protect himself from criticisms surrounding Pelosi by not supporting her in leadership. “I think it’s clear that this Congress is not working for the people,” Lamb explained, “I think we need new leadership on both sides.”
The strategic argument in favor of Brindisi supporting new leadership is premised on neutralizing a major mode of attack by Republicans. Aggregate polling demonstrates that Leader Pelosi is not popular nationally with a net favorability of around -20 points. This is similar to other longstanding House leaders, but still not ideal.
The same goes for National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC). Chris Martin, for example, has employed similar rhetoric against Conor Lamb and Anthony Brindisi, calling both a “rubber stamp” for Pelosi (examples regarding Lamb & Brindisi).
“Like a typical Albany machine politician,” Martin said of today’s development, Brindisi has “proven once again that he will say anything to get elected.”
Still, there is much to gain by Brindisi supporting new leadership and little to lose. Pelosi-related attacks may continue, but their logic and coherence would be diminished.
These attacks would probably further emphasize Pelosi’s fundraising ability, one of her greatest strengths. Fellow partisans raising money for each other is not new or controversial. Moreover, party leaders, including Pelosi, will likely continue to help Brindisi’s campaign, as we saw with Lamb’s campaign.
Rather than just pointing to his past record in seeking to demonstrate his independence from party leaders, Brindisi is now better able to make a clear commitment to the present and future, helping solidify himself as a more centrist Democrat.
Luke Perry (@PolSciLukePerry) is Chair and Professor of Government at Utica College.
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