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It's time for Nancy Pelosi and other longtime Democratic leaders to leave, California Rep. Linda Sanchez says

U.S. Rep. Linda T. Sanchez (D-Whittier) (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)
U.S. Rep. Linda T. Sanchez (D-Whittier) (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)

It's time for Nancy Pelosi and other longtime leaders to make way for a new generation to lead House Democrats, caucus Vice Chairwoman Linda Sanchez said Thursday.

"Our leadership does a tremendous job, but we do have this real breadth and depth of talent within our caucus and I do think it’s time to pass the torch to a new generation of leaders," Sanchez said.

It was a bold declaration for a member of House leadership, especially for a member from California, and could signal that she's reflecting the views of many House Democrats.

There has been quiet grumbling for years about how long Pelosi, the minority leader from San Francisco, Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland and assistant Democratic leader James E. Clyburn of South Carolina have led the party in the House, but few members have been willing to publicly call for a change.

Sanchez, of Whittier, made the statement in an interview with the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post during a taping of CSPAN's "Newsmakers," which will air Sunday.

Asked if Pelosi, who has been in Democratic leadership since 2001, would keep her post if a vote were held today, Sanchez wasn't sure.

"There are a lot of members in our caucus and, again, everybody has their opinion. I just don't know what the answer to that is," Sanchez said.

Pelosi has staved off multiple challenges while her political deftness has always kept House Democrats together and her fundraising prowess has kept their coffers full.

“Leader Pelosi enjoys wide support in the caucus and has always said she is not in Congress on a shift, but on a mission. Leader Pelosi is focused on winning back the House and anything else is a distraction from our path to the Majority,” Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said.

She was challenged most recently for her post in November by Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio. Though he lost 134-63, the vote was closer than previous such elections and put a spotlight on some of the disagreements within the caucus.

Pelosi said she had considered retiring if Hillary Clinton had won the presidential election in 2016, but seems to be reinvigorated by her role as a foil to President Trump.

Sanchez emphasized that she's not singling Pelosi out, and wasn't ready to name people who might step up, but she's concerned about losing talented members who don't feel like there is a chance for them to advance. Sanchez did say she wants to stay in Democratic leadership.

"I want to be a part of that transition, I want to see that happen," she said.

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UPDATES:

10:26 a.m.: This post was updated with a quote from Rep. Nancy Pelosi's spokesman.

It was originally published at 9:04 a.m.

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