When Ileana Ros Lehtinen retired from her Miami-Dade congressional seat in 2018, the Republican Party ran Telemundo TV anchor María Elvira Salazar. But it was an anti-Trump wave election-- in a D+5 district that Hillary had won by 20 points-- and FL-27 residents elected a tired Democratic nothing-burger/relic, Donna Shalala, 130,743 (51.8%) to 115,588 (45.8%). This cycle, Biden won Miami-Dade County, although without the margins he needed to give him a statewide Florida win-- 617,864 (53.4%) to 532,833 (46.1%). Shalala wasn't worried about being reelected. It was in the bag. She and Salazar each spent approximately $3.6 million. Neither the DCCC nor the NRCC spent in the district. In the end the rematch ended in a surprise loss for Shalala-- 176,141 (51.4%) to 166,758 (48.6%). There was a similar upset in the blue district (FL-26-- D+6) next door, where Carlos Gimenez beat Democratic freshman, New Dem Debbie Mucarsel-Powell 51.7% to 48.3%.
Florida Republican politicians have welcomed COVID with open arms-- more so than any other state with a substantial population. There are virtually no safeguards and the virus has run wild. Today, Florida reported xx new cases, bringing the statewide total to xx-- that's a horrifying xx cases per million Floridians. Ron DeSantis and the Republican state legislators must be very proud of themselves. A couple of weeks after the election Gimenez and his wife caught COVID. Their cases were mild and Gimenez will be sworn in with the rest of the freshman class Sunday. Not so Congresswoman-elect Salazar. She was admitted to the hospital December 23 and is now in quarantine.
Like Congressman-elect Luke Letlow (R-LA), who died of COVID this week, Salazar won't be voting for Speaker. Although many Republicans who are infected keep it secret, there are at least 6 Republicans who have announced they have COVID this month-- as well as 3 Democrats. It is uncertain exactly which of them will be voting Sunday and which won't be, although we know for sure that there are at least 3 Democrats who will not be voting-- Anna Eshoo (CA), Rick Larsen (WA) and Gwen Moore (WI). Cedric Richmond (D-LA) may be voting; his quarantine ended today. The 6 Republicans, besides Salazar, who we know tested positive this month are
Ted Budd (NC)
Robert Aderholt (AL)
Devin Nunes (CA)
Barry Loudermilk (GA)
Joe Wilson (SC)
Mike Rogers (AL)
Although Budd, Nunes, Loudermilk, Wilson and Rogers made a point of voting against the $2000 Survival Checks on Monday evening, they may have voted remotely. The vote for Speaker can only be cast in person. Writing for the Associated Press this morning, Alan Fram sought to inject a little drama into Sunday's vote-- even before he knew Salazar would be absent and not casting her vote for McCarthy. Even if his click-seeking headline writer wouldn't, Fram acknowledged Pelosi will be reelected Speaker but added that it "could take a high-wire act for her to get there," blaming that on the pandemic rather than the faction-riven Democratic caucus. He looked at the numbers and concluded there is no margin for error in the voting. He claims Pelosi has 222 votes for and 211 against (not counting the Brindisi-Tenney race). He took Letlow's death into account but not Salazar's incapacity.
Pelosi retains the support of most Democrats, who revere her for leading their 2018 recapture of House control and their battles against President Donald Trump. She’s kept her party’s moderates and progressives largely united and raised boatloads of campaign cash.
But at 80, about the same age as her top two lieutenants, Pelosi remains a source of frustration for younger Democrats eager to climb the leadership chain. Discontent and division have grown after expected gains in last month’s elections evaporated and 12 Democrats lost House seats, prompting calls for fresh messengers in response to criticism that party leaders did a poor job of campaigning on the country’s deep economic problems.
No Democratic rival to Pelosi has emerged, greatly diminishing the odds she’ll be toppled. Perhaps unanimously, Republicans will back Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California for speaker, but he seems destined to become minority leader again.
Even so, Pelosi must minimize the number of Democrats opposing her.
Of 15 Democrats who bucked her when she was elected speaker in January 2019, three lost reelection last month. One is in a race where votes are still being counted and another became a Republican.
That leaves 10 Democrats who opposed her two years ago. Of those, Washington Rep. Kurt Schrader has said he’s now open to backing her and at least two others have said they will do so, Jason Crow of Colorado and Jim Cooper of Tennessee.
“She has led a contentious Democratic caucus well during the pandemic and the Trump presidency,” Cooper said.
It’s unknown how many of the 15 incoming Democratic freshmen might oppose Pelosi.
Some suggest the tight numbers might encourage Pelosi’s Democratic critics to force the balloting into a rare second round, when she could eventually win but perhaps be forced into promises about bills the House would consider or other concessions. People mentioning this scenario insisted on anonymity to describe behind-the-scenes conversations.
There's been a stir this week that progressives may have something in mind. Cutting edge freshmen Cori Bush (D-MO) and Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) were on State of the Union last weekend and both said, in a rather tantalizing fashion, that their decision on who to vote for will be revealed on Sunday and not until they vote. Some anti-Establishment media figures have been demanding that progressives topple Pelosi if she doesn't agree to various demands, first-and-foremost, a floor vote on Medicare-for-All. It wouldn't pass but the idea is that a list of primary targets would be instantly created when Democrats in deep blue districts vote no. Kind of a lazy man's way to achieve that, but it would do the job. Pelosi wants to avoid exactly that and I suspect she will prevail in this particular food fight. I hope I'm wrong. She needs to go-- along with Hoyer and Clyburn.