In the wake of Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff‘s four-point lost to Republican Karen Handel in last week’s special election, there has been much hand-wringing among Democrats desperate to show that they’re building momentum going into the 2018 midterms.
Ossoff’s loss was the fourth special election to go to the Republicans in the first six months of the Trump presidency.
“Our brand is worse than Trump,” Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan lamented the day after Ossoff’s loss, while New York Representative Kathleen Rice of New York told CNN the entire Democratic leadership team should go.
First and foremost, Rice and Ryan are referring to Nancy Pelosi, who has been at the head of the Democratic House leadership since 2003.
Pelosi has fought back tenaciously, saying she isn’t going anywhere, and she has a majority of supporters in her caucus, such as Tampa U.S. Representative Kathy Castor, who continues to stand by her despite the growing criticism of her tenure.
“This is the exact wrong time to be having this discussion because everyone needs to be focused on defeating this health care bill in the Senate this week,” Castor told FloridaPolitics when asked Monday morning in Tampa where she stood on the issue.
The calls among some Democrats to oust Pelosi have been ongoing for years as the Democrats have continued to lose seats in the House of Representatives. Those grumblings were loud after last fall, and reached a fever pitch way back in 2010 after the Republicans took back the House and the speakership from Pelosi.
At that time, Castor called the discussion “a distraction,”
While calling Pelosi “a strong leader,” Castor said Monday that “over the next few years, you’re going to see a change in the House leadership.”
One would think so. Pelosi is 77. Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer from Maryland is 78, while assistant Democratic leader James Clyburn turns 77 next month.
While some pundits and Democrats said that last week’s election was one that Democrats needed to show that they will have a big year against vulnerable GOP incumbents in Congress, others have noted that it was a district that has always been Republican.
“This is Newt Gingrich’s (former) district; (now-Health Secretary) Tom Price’s district. A first-time candidate. That was going to be a toughie,” said Castor, who made a campaign appearance for Ossoff.
In fact, Price defeated his Democratic challenger last November by 23 percentage points, and Georgia Six was Gingrich’s home district for more than 20 years. But it was also a district that is changing, and is now the 6th best educated congressional district in the country.
Trump narrowly won it by just 1.5 points over Hillary Clinton last fall, however.
“I thought it was a warning shot to the 70 other districts out there are more Democratic, or more independent than that one, you just watch,” said an ever-confident Castor about the Democrats chances of winning back House seats in 2018.
I’m not distraught over that at,” she said. “I’m more hopeful than anything.”