Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
U.S. House of Representatives Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi speaks to reporters after she was re-elected to her post on Wednesday, despite a challenge from Rust Belt congressman Tim Ryan who said the party needed new leadership, on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 30, 2016.
Longtime Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi won re-election Wednesday to the post, fighting off a challenge after calls for new leadership following the party’s crushing electoral disappointment.
In a closed vote, the caucus chose the California representative 134 to 63 over challenger Tim Ryan of Ohio, according to NBC News. They also decided on other key posts as they try to regain electoral viability in a country that just signaled its anger with a perceived Washington establishment by electing Donald Trump president.
In a tweet, Pelosi said she was “honored” to get elected, adding “let’s get to work.”
Ryan and others have said the Democrats need new leadership to win elections and connect with voters away from the coasts. Democrats gained a fewer-than-expected six House seats in the election, while failing to win back the Senate majority amid a surprisingly strong turnout for Trump.
Pelosi, 76, has led the House Democrats for 12 years. She was House speaker from 2007 to 2011. Ryan — who represents a state Trump won — argued that the party needs a new generation of leadership.
He recently told NBC News that focusing too much on identity politics rather than economics may have alienated white voters who propelled Trump to victory.
Ryan congratulated Pelosi in a statement Wednesday, but said he believes “changes are necessary” in the Democratic Party. He praised Pelosi for adopting measures to give newer members of Congress a bigger hand in leadership but argued that the party needs to change its messaging.
“It is clear as we learn more about the outcome of our elections that we’re ignoring crucial voices that deserve to be heard. The people I represent in Northeast Ohio and the tens of millions of workers across our country are proud to be called blue collar,” Ryan said. “Democrats must adopt a progressive economic message that focuses on large, direct infrastructure investments, affordable health care, portable pensions, and public-private investments that promote advanced manufacturing.”
Pelosi was last challenged in 2010, easily beating Rep. Heath Shuler of North Carolina.
— NBC News contributed to this report