Democratic Rep. says Pelosi is 'impediment' to taking back House majority

PHOTO: Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio arrives at the Longworth Building for the House Democratic leadership election on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 30, 2016.Gary Cameron/Reuters
Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio arrives at the Longworth Building for the House Democratic leadership election on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 30, 2016.

House minority leader Nancy Pelosi is facing down a fresh threat to her job just days after Tuesday's special election setback in Georgia. A group of younger House Democrats is leading the charge, saying that the party faces an uphill battle to take back the majority in the chamber as long as Pelosi is the party’s public face.

Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, is among the leaders of that group. Having failed to oust Pelosi in a leadership challenge shortly after the election last fall, Ryan is working with colleagues to see if there’s appetite for another attempt at replacing her, he said Thursday on ABC News’ “Powerhouse Politics” podcast.

“If you can’t get elected, you can’t govern. It’s just that simple,” Ryan said. He argued that the Democrats have strayed from issues that got them elected in the past. The contentious Russian investigation, for example, is “just disconnected from what normal people and average people are going through.” Ryan lists home ownership, health care, and the price of energy as key issues his party should focus on.

Ryan said Pelosi stands in the way of the party's goal of flipping control of the House back in their favor for the first time since 2010.

“It’s not personal against Leader Pelosi, it’s just reality,” Ryan said, adding later his belief that Pelosi's leadership "provide[s] a good, solid impediment" to taking back the majority.

In this week's Georgia and South Carolina special elections, Republicans ran ads that targeted Pelosi. Ryan believes those ads were instrumental in the Republicans' victories.

PHOTO: House Democratic Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi fires up fellow Democrats at an election night rally at the Hyatt Regency Hotel near the Capitol in Washington, Nov. 7, 2006.J. Scott Applewhite/AP
House Democratic Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi fires up fellow Democrats at an election night rally at the Hyatt Regency Hotel near the Capitol in Washington, Nov. 7, 2006.

Ryan said his party suffers from a “perception” issue. “We are perceived as being liberal, that’s got a bad reputation, and out of touch,” he said, adding that Democrats have stopped discussing issues that he believes matter most to working-class Americans. “We haven’t been talking about these direct economic issues that people are talking about,” he said.

The solution to these problems, Ryan maintains, lies in changing leadership and widening the party's appeal. “The party has become coastal,” he said, “Two-thirds of our caucus is on the water.”

Ryan also said he believes the party needs some fresh faces to be able to compete in future elections. The Republicans have “young guns and this new group of new faces, which people like to see in politics," he said, a group within which the 43-year old from Youngstown, Ohio might fit himself, were he not a Democrat.

Several Democratic representatives, including Ryan, plan on discussing possible efforts to oust Pelosi on a meeting planned for Thursday. “I’m always open for a conversation,” he said.

The congressman, however, remained quiet about whether he will attempt to challenge Pelosi for leadership as he did last November. “I don’t really have any real ambition at this point to do anything. I’m here to serve the caucus," he said.

Congress will have to wait to see whether there will be two party leaders named Ryan.

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