A Democrat gunning for one of Wisconsin’s most conservative House districts disavowed House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Sunday, even as Pelosi brought in a large fundraising haul at the beginning of 2018.
Dan Kohl, nephew of former U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.), is challenging Rep. Glenn Grothman in Wisconsin’s 6th Congressional District, which has an R+8 rating and which overwhelmingly supported President Donald Trump by 17 points in 2016. The minority leader, extremely unpopular, will likely prove an effective punching bag for Republicans in November, so Kohl is likely smart to reject her.
“If I’m elected to Congress, I would not vote for Nancy Pelosi as leader of the Democrats,” Kohl told Fox 6 on Sunday. “It’s time for a new generation of leadership in Washington. We’ve seen a change of leadership coming on the Republican side. Now I think it’s important that we see the same kind of change on the Democratic side as well.”
Fox 6’s Theo Keith noted that Vice President Mike Pence attacked the minority leader by name in his recent remarks in Milwaukee. “The person who wants to be speaker of the House again, Nancy Pelosi,” Pence said, and the crowd cut him off with loud boos.
Pelosi has proved an effective bugbear in elections, as recently as last year. Last June, the voters of Georgia’s 6th congressional district elected Republican Karen Handel over Democrat golden boy Jon Ossoff in what was at the time the most expensive congressional campaign in U.S. history. Georgia 6 is a red district, but Democrats invested heavily to flip it, and they came remarkably close. Ads against Ossoff tied him to Pelosi, and that message seems to have worked.
“Every morning I wake up and I take a moment to be thankful that the Republican Party still has Nancy Pelosi because Nancy Pelosi is absolutely toxic,” Corry Bliss, the executive director of the Congressional Leadership Fund, which spent $6.2 million for Handel, told The Washington Times.
“This race is a referendum on Nancy Pelosi and her liberal policy agenda, which is just fundamentally out of touch with a vast majority of Americans,” Bliss declared. Indeed, a June Poll of Georgia 6 voters found that nearly six in ten had a negative view of Pelosi. Pelosi could not have been the issue that sank Ossoff, but these ads likely contributed to his defeat.
Indeed, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) predicted that Pelosi would prove one of the Democrats’ “biggest impediments” in the 2018 elections.
Even so, the minority leader seems set on resurrecting a 12-year-old slogan against a “Republican culture of cronyism, corruption, and incompetence.” That slogan helped Democrats win in 2006, as major Republican scandals dropped that year. In the intervening years, however, President Barack Obama showed just how cronyist, corrupt, and incompetent Democrat leadership can be, and President Donald Trump has barely scratched the surface of deconstructing the “deep state.”
Despite Pelosi’s unpopularity, her fundraising has proved a powerful asset for the Democratic Party. In the first quarter of 2018, she raised $16.1 million for House Democrats, brining her total this cycle to $66.7 million, beating her 2016 haul by nearly $10 million.
Even so, as of last October, the Republican National Committee (RNC) had thirteen times as much money as the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The minority leader may be a good fundraiser for the Democrats, but Trump is even more effective for the Republicans.
Even while Democrats like Kohl have distanced themselves from Pelosi, the minority leader herself has dismissed questions about her leadership of the Democratic Party as “unimportant.” If she can convince other Democrats to take the same attitude, that will likely bode well for the GOP come November.