On Wednesday, a majority of the incoming class of Democratic members of Congress nominated longtime leader Nancy Pelosi as the next Speaker of the House, setting up her likely—but not guaranteed—return to the most powerful position in Congress, which she last held from 2007 to 2011.
Pelosi’s next test will be the full vote on the House floor in January, where she will need a full majority to take the speakership. And while the California Democrat has made strong progress in whipping support from the disparate wings of her party, there are still some Democrats—notably moderate Reps. Seth Moulton, Kathleen Rice, and Tim Ryan, the last of which ran a failed leadership campaign against Pelosi in 2016—who have said they intend to oppose her in the final floor vote.
Given the Democrats’ new House majority, she can lose approximately 17 Democrats and still be elected speaker. Speaking with reporters on Wednesday, Pelosi sounded confident about her nomination’s chance within the full House of Representatives.
“Our diversity is our strength, but our unity is our power, and we will use that power again in a unifying way for our country,” she exclaimed, adding that “we’re in pretty good shape” for the next vote.
Full floor vote notwithstanding, Pelosi’s win within the party itself seemed increasingly like a sure thing in the days leading up to the caucus vote. While her speakership had been challenged by Democrats to her left and right around the midterm elections, Pelosi had since managed to flip a number of those who’d once spoken out against her.
In some cases Pelosi consolidated support by empowering the progressive members of the newly elected freshman class of Representatives who’d once agitated for change in the party leadership. She also worked to secure the backing of more conservative members of her party by agreeing to a series of procedural demands from the so called “Problem Solvers” caucus, prompting them to throw their weight behind her hours before the vote.
Perhaps most importantly, though, is that no matter how much other Democrats may have wanted someone other that Pelosi to wield the gavel come January, there were ultimately no real contenders who ended up stepping up to face her when it came time for the caucus to vote. Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio, whose name had most frequently been pushed by others in the party as a potential replacement, announced she would back Pelosi shortly before Thanksgiving. So when it came time for Democrats to vote on Wednesday, Pelosi ran unopposed.
The full House will vote on her nomination on January 3.