Rep. Marcia Fudge holds power in history in her hands
The recent November mid term elections may have served a referendum on President Trump and his administration, but it has clearly forced an ensuing power struggle among Democrats in the House of Representatives.
After gaining control of the House of Representatives with 232 members to the 200 that the Republicans hold, and the Republicans gained seats in the Senate thus dividing the most powerful branches of government.
Such division may have also resonated within the Democratic Party as Ohio Congress member Marcia Fudge (D-11) could potentially challenge Minority Leader and former Speaker of the House Nancy Polesi for the gavel.
Polesi, the long term California Democrat, has assumed that she would resume the Majority leadership post after the Democrats won back the House in sweeping fashion.
Pelosi instantly went on television news outlets declaring herself to be the next House speaker, a position she held from 2007 to 2011. Pelosi has been a fundraising juggernaut with allies throughout the caucus, but many Democrats ran this fall on a message of refusing to support Pelosi's leadership.
Fudge was among 17 signees to a letter written by a mixture of incumbent and would-be Democratic members who pledged not to vote for Pelosi in January.
Polesi made history and broke gender barriers when she became the first woman to serve as speaker.
The position is arguably the most powerful post beside that of President of the United States and if Fudge decides to challenge Polesi and win she would be the first African American speaker in 230 years.
However, even if Fudge does not run, she could be persuasive in pushing for pool that will include Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, currently the No. 3 House Democrat; Hakeem Jeffries of New York; Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, current chairman of the CBC or Elijah Cummings of Maryland.
If Polesi’s 16-year reign on power in the house succeeds, the next speaker of the House could be a black Democrat. And Congress would never be the same.
“I think it’s more than a possibility. It’s a probability,” said Fudge of the likelihood of a black speaker in 2019.
Electing a black lawmaker to the top job in the House — putting that Democrat in line to the presidency right after the vice president — would be a remarkable milestone.
No African-American lawmaker has ever run a party caucus in either chamber or risen higher than majority whip, the No. 3 post, in the House leadership. Prior to Clyburn, the late Rep. William Gray III of Pennsylvania served as House majority whip from 1989 to 1991.
“We want people to see that the Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives is, with some intentionality, very inclusive,” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri, a senior member of the CBC. “It’s a powerful statement for the nation and maybe even for the world.”
“I have not made a decision, I'm still thinking about it," she said outside of her office on Capitol Hill. "It's a big decision. I mean, the speaker does an awful lot of things, the travel, the fundraising," she said.
Fudge still had not made a decision at press time, but a decision is looming before the members convene on the floor by Nov. 28.
Among the issue facing Fudge is the fact that a bid for the Speakership could hurt the accession of Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), the highest-ranking black lawmaker in the caucus, who is vying for the majority whip post.
Clyburn said that he, Pelosi and Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the minority whip, are part of a cohesive team. If Pelosi falls, Clyburn suggested, he and Hoyer would fall with her.
“She would be a threat to me as well. … Because I really believe we have put together a team,” Clyburn said. “I’m supporting that team. And that team is Pelosi, Hoyer and Clyburn.”
Clyburn emphasized, however, that he is not discouraging Fudge from entering the race.
“I would never tell anybody not to run — not even my own children,” he said.
Polesi’s support is strongest among her many veteran colleagues such as Congress member Maxine Waters (D-California), considered among the most powerful and influential members of the House.
However, the new wave of soon to be first term members are clamoring for a change at the top and their overwhelming choice is Fudge.
Now, it’s up to Fudge if the enormous, history making challenge is what she wants to do.