Pelosi challenger: House Dems need new message and messenger

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Ohio congressman who is vying to topple longtime House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said Sunday that his colleagues understand that regaining the majority requires a “new message and a new messenger,” someone who is able to connect with voters in the middle of the country who abandoned the party in this month’s elections. Rep. Tim Ryan said Pelosi isn’t a shoo-in for re-election, given the “consternation in our caucus” following election results that handed the White House to Republicans, who also kept control of the House and Senate. Ryan said he has a “shot to win” when House Democrats meet Wednesday to choose their leaders for the new session of Congress that opens in January

“We’re making a hell of a run at this thing,” Ryan, 43, said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Ryan was elected to the House in 2002, the same year House Democrats chose Pelosi to lead their caucus. “People are saying, ‘Look, this has been a change election. We want change,'” Ryan said. “And there are a lot of members of Congress who now are understanding that we need to make a change.” Pelosi, a 76-year-old liberal from California who is known for her fundraising prowess, says she has the support of two-thirds of her caucus.

The House Democratic leadership vote had been scheduled for the week of the Nov. 8 election, but it was delayed until Nov. 30 after the election results that deeply disappointed Democrats.

Republicans have already re-elected Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to another term as House speaker.

Tim Ryan said House Democrats’ “failure as a caucus has been not to focus on economic issues.” He called for a “robust, economic message” that resonates with all voters, but especially with those in Rust Belt and rural areas where Democrats used to perform better.

Ryan, who represents northeast Ohio, says he’s better able to appeal to these disaffected voters, and he’s hoping a majority of the caucus will agree.

Democrats lost control of the House in the 2010 midterm elections. “I think they understand that this is about having a new message and a new messenger and be able to reach those folks,” Ryan said. “They know that if we don’t get the middle of the country, that we’re never going to be back in the majority.”