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Marcia Fudge: The Democrat who could challenge Nancy Pelosi

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PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 27: U.S. Representative Marcia Fudge (D-OH) calls to order the third day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 27, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton received the number of votes needed to secure the party's nomination. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Philadelphia, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Democratic National Convention kicked off July 25. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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  • Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge is currently weighing a challenge
    against Nancy Pelosi for speaker of the House.
  • Fudge has been urged by the small group of Democratic
    colleagues looking to oust Pelosi from the top spot in the House.
  • Fudge has been in Congress since 2008, prior to which she was
    the mayor of the Cleveland suburb Warrensville Heights.

WASHINGTON — Rep. Marcia Fudge, the Ohio Democrat currently
mulling a challenge to Nancy Pelosi for the speaker’s gavel when
the new Congress forms in January, has long been a thorn in the
side of the Democratic leadership.

While Fudge is waiting until after the Thanksgiving break to
decide whether or not she will mount a bid against Pelosi, who
has been Democratic leader for the better part of the past two
decades, many of her colleagues wait anxiously as they split into
factions of those who ardently back Pelosi, those who want to
oust her in favor of new blood, and the small group of
still-undecided members and incoming freshmen.

Fudge, 66, has represented Ohio’s 11th congressional district
since 2008. Prior to that, she was the mayor of Warrensville
Heights, a suburb of Cleveland.

Regarding Pelosi, Fudge has often been critical, most recently
calling her “elitist” in an
interview
with HuffPost.

She also railed against Pelosi for taking too much credit for
Democrats retaking the House majority, which they had failed to
capture for the last eight years.

“Everybody wants to give her such big credit for winning
back the House, and she should be here because she won,” Fudge
said. “She didn’t win it by herself.”

When Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio unsuccessfully challenged
Pelosi for minority leader shortly after the 2016 elections,
Fudge nominated him on the House floor.

After Pelosi defeated Ryan, Fudge
said
, “We didn’t lose today.” 

“We now have a leadership team that listens to us,” she
added. “Today, we made our caucus more representative of our
members.”

Potential challenge to Nancy Pelosi for speaker of the House

A Fudge challenge to Pelosi would satisfy a lot of Democrats
looking for an alternative.

Many of the Midwestern Democrats in Congress have lamented their
lack of representation at all levels of the House leadership, and
Fudge’s Ohio roots would certainly fill that void.

“I think the leadership team matters,” Illinois Rep. Cheri Bustos

told INSIDER
. “I know the focus is everybody gets asked about
the speaker’s race, but the leadership team matters in all sorts
of ways. And one of those is geographic diversity.”

Bustos, who is a Pelosi backer and candidate to chair the
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is one of just two
Midwesterners running for a spot on the leadership team.

Another Midwesterner, Rep. Tim Ryan, is one of the Democrats
leading the charge to oust Pelosi. Ryan signed
the letter
released by a working group of 16 congresspeople
and incoming freshmen opposed to Pelosi.

Fudge was previously a signatory on the letter, but did not
appear when it became public on Monday. However, the removal of
Fudge’s name does not necessarily mean she is ruling out the
challenge to Pelosi.

Pelosi
welcomed any challengers
during a Thursday press conference,
noting that while she believes many Democrats have the chops to
serve as speaker, she believes she is the best choice for the
moment.

“I have overwhelming support in my caucus to be speaker of the
House,” Pelosi said. “And, certainly, we have many, many people
in our caucus who could serve in this capacity. I happen to think
at this point, I am the best person for that.”

But while there is a sizable amount of ground to be gained for
insurgents in the Democratic caucus, Pelosi also has to court
more members if she wants to be able to secure the necessary 218
votes on the House floor to become speaker.

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