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Pelosi retirement could be Republican nightmare

Issued: 2018-03-30

Win McNamee/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is a favorite target for Republican candidates and groups to tie to their opponents and paint them as out of touch, elitist, or excessively liberal — but her fundraising prowess still proves to be a massive benefit to Democrats.

While Pelosi has remained adamant that she will stay on as leader and shrugged off the handful of Democratic candidates across the US who have distanced themselves from her, the possibility that she would step down to assume a purely fundraising role is a prospect that terrifies Republicans.

Though Pelosi has been the subject of numerous attack ads from Republicans, she hauled in nearly $50 million for House Democrats last year, while her Republican counterpart in the House, Paul Ryan, brought in $44 million.

One GOP operative mused that because Pelosi's stepping down would leave Republicans without their boogeyman, the chances of Republicans retaining their majority in the House would evaporate.

And a Republican strategist told Business Insider that it would cause tremendous concern throughout GOP campaigns who use her polarizing status as a pillar of their attack ads.

But dealing with a Democratic caucus where divided factions would each want to take the top spot could prove difficult, decreasing the likelihood of a leadership change.

Several Democrats are waiting in line to become leader when Pelosi's tenure ends. Reps. Joe Crowley and Steny Hoyer, the House minority whip, are among those looking to the big job promotion in one way or another. Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio unsuccessfully challenged Pelosi in 2016 but has since warmed up to her.

If Pelosi were to depart before the midterm elections in November, and if Democrats could not unify around a new leader right away, the focus could stay on Pelosi.

"It's impossible to see her leaving or her stepping down without Reps. Hoyer and Clyburn promising now to run, which it's tough to imagine them doing," a former senior Republican aide told Business Insider, referring to Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina.

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