Nancy Pelosi says she will run for speaker if Democrats win the House — which is just what Republicans wanted to hear

  • Nancy Pelosi says she will run for House speaker if Democrats win a House majority after November's midterm elections.
  • Republicans will likely use her statement in campaign ads, as Pelosi is a frequent campaign target.
  • It is unclear whether the GOP's Pelosi-related attacks can resonate with voters.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
Getty Images
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

Nancy Pelosi just delighted Republicans.

On Tuesday, the House Democratic leader told The Boston Globe that she plans to run for House speaker if her party takes a majority in the chamber in November's elections.

Her statement will excite the GOP, which targets the California Democrat on the campaign trail and uses the prospect of her speakership as a tool to motivate voters.

"We will win. I will run for speaker. I feel confident about it. And my members do, too," Pelosi told the newspaper while in Boston attending a fundraiser.

Pelosi, 78, became speaker of the House in 2007 and has led the minority House Democrats since 2011. She was House minority leader from 2003 to 2007. Certain members of her caucus have pushed for fresh leadership, and some Democratic candidates in key House elections have declined to support her as the party's leader.

But Pelosi has shown no willingness to step away from leadership. That excites Republicans, who have already attacked Pelosi frequently and tied special election and midterm candidates to her. Republicans have repeatedly hit the Democrat for her criticism of the GOP tax law passed in December and warned a Democratic majority may lead to efforts to impeach President Donald Trump.

Republicans appear willing to seize on Pelosi's plan to run for speaker. Matt Gorman, communications director for House Republicans' campaign arm, signaled her statement would find its way into GOP television ads.

In February, Trump himself called Pelosi the "secret weapon" for Republicans in their push to hold on to a House majority in November. Democrats need to win 23 GOP-held seats to take the House majority. They appear confident about their prospects amid enthusiasm from Democratic voters, strong results in recent special elections, and poor approval ratings for the GOP tax and health-care plans.

Pelosi is unpopular nationwide. But it is not clear whether attacks related to the Democratic leader will work in House elections, especially if more Democratic candidates decline to support her as leader.

In March's House special election in Pennsylvania, national Republicans repeatedly tried to tie Democratic Rep. Conor Lamb to Pelosi. Lamb, who refused to back Pelosi, won the election in a recently red district as the GOP attacks appeared to fall flat.

Pelosi has shown fundraising prowess, announcing this week that she raised $16.1 million for Democrats in the first quarter of 2018. Last year, she brushed off concerns about dragging her party down in the midterms.

"I think I'm worth the trouble," she said.