Congressman Ruben Gallego of Phoenix is joining a group of dissidents from his party who believe it's time for a new House Democratic leader. He is backing Tim Ryan's bid to unseat Nancy Pelosi as the top House Democrat.
Gallego said in a statement that House Democrats "must do more than simply paper over the cracks" if they want to reverse four election cycles of disappointing results and win back the majority in the House of Representatives.
"We can't just say the right things — we must take concrete steps to move our party in the right direction," Gallego said. "That's why I'm proud to announce my support for Congressman Tim Ryan for Democratic Leader."
Added Gallego: "Congressman Ryan has been a relentless advocate for working families and progressive policies. He is young and energetic, and I believe he will lead our Caucus in standing up to President-elect [Donald] Trump and his administration and their plans to roll back civil liberties and our country's social advancement."
Ryan announced on November 17 that he was running for the House minority leader position. He faces a tall order to oust Pelosi, a powerful fundraiser who has been the House Democratic leader for the past 14 years. Last time she faced a challenge in 2010, she easily won by a margin of 150 to 43.
Gallego praised Pelosi for helping deliver "progressive victories" such as the Affordable Care Act while she was speaker of the House. He also said he respects and admires "her long record of dedicated service to our party and our country" and that he was "heartened to read that she is now heeding the younger voices in our caucus."
But, he went on, "[L]et's be clear: these changes are necessary but not sufficient. We can’t walk away from the 2016 election without learning an important lesson. What we're doing now is not working. We have an opportunity for change, and we should take it."
House Democrats will vote to elect the next House minority leader on Wednesday. So far, Gallego is one of the few House Democrats and the only member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to openly back Ryan over Pelosi. Twenty-one Hispanic Caucus members, including Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva, signed a letter in support of Pelosi.
Gallego was among the House Democrats who called on Pelosi to delay party leadership elections until November 30. The elections were supposed to be held before Thanksgiving.
Here is the text of Representative Ruben Gallego's November 29 statement:
For Immediate Release: November 29, 2016
Rep. Ruben Gallego Backs Tim Ryan for Democratic Leader
Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Ruben Gallego announced his support for Rep. Tim Ryan to serve as the next Democratic Leader.
Rep. Ruben Gallego issued the following statement:
“One of the unmistakable messages of the 2016 election is that the American people are fed up with business as usual in Washington. At this critical juncture, we face a choice – will we preserve a broken status quo or will we set our party on a new course?
“I believe we must do more than simply paper over the cracks. We can’t just say the right things – we must take concrete steps to move our party in the right direction. That’s why I’m proud to announce my support for Congressman Tim Ryan for Democratic Leader.
“Congressman Ryan has been a relentless advocate for working families and progressive policies. He is young and energetic, and I believe he will lead our Caucus in standing up to President-elect Trump and his administration and their plans to roll back civil liberties and our country’s social advancement.
“Congressman Ryan has also proposed far-reaching reforms on how our Caucus is governed. These reforms will bring more voices into leadership, with new ideas that will help us to energize the diverse base of our party. He has emphasized accountability, and demonstrated that he is willing to be answerable to our Members.
“Nancy Pelosi helped deliver great progressive victories like the Affordable Care Act during her Speakership. She has steered the Democratic Caucus through a series of tough fights, and I respect and admire her long record of dedicated service to our party and our country.I was heartened to read that she is now heeding the younger voices in our caucus. However, let’s be clear: these changes are necessary but not sufficient.
“We can’t walk away from the 2016 election without learning an important lesson. What we’re doing now is not working. We have an opportunity for change, and we should take it. I encourage my Democratic colleagues to join me in supporting Tim Ryan for Democratic Leader.”
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.