Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S. (Photographer: Yuri Gripas/Bloomberg)

16 Democrats Sign Letter Opposing Pelosi as House Speaker

(Bloomberg) -- More than a dozen incoming and returning U.S. House Democrats indicated in a letter Monday they won’t support Nancy Pelosi for House speaker and instead will vote for "new leadership."

The letter is a sign that there’s little wiggle room for Pelosi, 78, to lose any more support if these Democrats stick to their promise. Some other party members have said they won’t vote for Pelosi, but they didn’t sign the letter.

16 Democrats Sign Letter Opposing Pelosi as House Speaker

While thanking Pelosi -- who served as speaker from 2007 to 2011 -- for her years of "historic" leadership, the letter said it’s time for change when Democrats take control of the House in January.

"Our majority came on the backs of candidates who said that they would support new leadership because voters in hard-won districts, and across the country, want to see real change in Washington. We promised to change the status quo, and we intend to deliver on that promise," the Democrats wrote. "Therefore, we are committed to voting for new leadership in both our caucus meeting and on the House floor."

No challenger to Pelosi has come forward, though, and the letter didn’t say what the group will do if no one emerges. The letter also didn’t say whether a lower-level change in leadership would satisfy the Democrats’ demand.

Sixteen Democrats signed the letter, including 11 current House members and three others who have been declared winners by the Associated Press. Two other letter-signers’ election outcomes haven’t been called by AP. Anthony Brindisi of New York is leading in his race, while Ben McAdams is running behind Republican incumbent Mia Love in Utah, according to AP. Only two of the party members signing the letter are women.

16 Democrats Sign Letter Opposing Pelosi as House Speaker

Pelosi didn’t respond directly to the 16 Democrats, though she wrote in a Thanksgiving message to colleagues later Monday, "This is a Thanksgiving of hope. Our Democratic House majority must now honor that spirit of hope by showing that we can govern."

Democrats will hold at least 232 seats in the new Congress, according to latest numbers from the Associated Press. To replace retiring Republican Paul Ryan as speaker, Pelosi will need 218 votes for a majority -- providing all members show up and vote for a named person, and assuming no Republicans vote for her.

Democrats will vote on a speaker candidate in a private meeting set for Nov. 28. However, party divisions could lead to a protracted fight that may be left unresolved until the floor vote for speaker on Jan. 3.

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