Rep.-elect Ben McAdams, D-Utah, kept a campaign promise on Wednesday by voting against Nancy Pelosi as the new House speaker. But she still won nomination in the House Democratic caucus by a 202-32 margin.
Pelosi, 78, ran unopposed and has led House Democrats for 15 years, but McAdams was among the members who still voted against her.
A roll call vote in the full House will occur on Jan. 3 to select the new speaker when Congress convenes. With a number of defections on Wednesday, Pelosi is short of the 218 votes she needs then to win.
Democrats control 234 of the 435 seats in the next Congress. Pelosi cannot afford to lose more than 15 votes on Jan. 3 if all lawmakers are present and voting. If some Democrats choose simply to vote “present” or are absent, it may also reduce the margin that Pelosi needs.
McAdams, the two-term Salt Lake County mayor who defeated two-term Republican Rep. Mia Love by a 694-vote margin, “kept his promise to Utah today by voting no,” said Andrew Roberts, who was his campaign manager and is now an aide.
“Ben campaigned on the need for new leadership in Washington — on both sides of the aisle — and promised not to vote for Nancy Pelosi for speaker,” he said.
Andrews said when the next vote on Pelosi comes on Jan. 3, “Ben will follow through with his promise to not vote for Nancy Pelosi. He has not settled on a vote for any particular person but hopes to see a Democratic leader emerge in the near future.”
McAdams said in an earlier interview that he had not ruled out the possibility of voting for a Republican for the post, depending on the candidate.
Does McAdams expect retribution for his vote on such things as committee assignments? Roberts said essentially that it doesn’t matter.
“Ben ran for Congress to work for Utah, not to toe to a party line,” he said. “As a mayor and as a state legislator, Ben built a reputation as someone who gets things done. He finds a way to work with people with different points of view. It’s the same approach he’ll have in Washington.”
McAdams' campaign had criticized Love, saying she put party first, and pointed to statistics indicating that she voted with President Donald Trump more than 95 percent of the time.
Love, in a wide-ranging concession speech Monday, rebuked Trump for mocking her after the election, saying he has no genuine friendships or alliances, “just convenient transactions.”