Spanberger Surprises Democrats With Sunday Vote

By Brian Carlton

January 4, 2021

Seventh District representative said it’s time for new leadership in Congress, votes against Nancy Pelosi.

WASHINGTON D.C.- Abigail Spanberger said she wanted a change in House leadership. However, when the time came to vote on Sunday, Virginia’s Seventh District representative didn’t actually choose anyone. 

Members of the U.S. House met Sunday to swear in new members and choose a Speaker of the House for the 117th session of Congress. Nancy Pelosi kept her job, picking up 216 votes to 209 for Republican Kevin McCarthy. But despite calling for new leadership over the last two years, Spanberger didn’t vote for any. She didn’t vote for Pelosi or any of the other Democrats that got votes. Those included Rep. Bobby Jeffries from Pennsylvania and, strangely enough, Tammy Duckworth, who is a member of the U.S. Senate from Illinois.

Instead, Spanberger and two of her colleagues simply voted present. The other two included Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin and New Jersey Rep. Mikie Sherrill.  Interesting enough, all three campaigned on the need for new leadership but didn’t nominate any alternatives to Pelosi.

Despite the fact she simply voted present, Spanberger said she remained consistent in wanting new leaders. In a statement to media, also released on her Twitter feed, Spanberger tried to explain her decision. 

“My chief responsibility is to fight for the priorities of Central Virginia’s communities – and to support leaders and strategies that can deliver these priorities over the next two years,” Spanberger said. “In a time marked by historically low trust in our government, new voices are necessary to move forward and achieve real progress. Last Congress, I kept my promise to vote for new leadership upon my swearing-in. In this Congress, I remain consistent in my commitment to usher in new leadership. Accordingly, I did not vote for Speaker Pelosi.”  

RELATED: Spanberger Declared Winner in District 7 Race

Opposing the Message

The opposition to Pelosi also comes after Spanberger barely won her re-election bid. In a tight race that wasn’t called until nearly a week after Election Day, Spanberger beat Republican Nick Freitas by less than 2%. 

In a Democratic Caucus call obtained by the Washington Post, Spanberger told her fellow party members they need to be more careful about what they say. 

“The number one concern in things that people brought to me in my [district] that I barely re-won, was defunding the police,” Spanberger said on the call. “And I’ve heard from colleagues who have said ‘Oh, it’s the language of the streets. We should respect that.’ We’re in Congress. [We] are professionals. We are supposed to talk about things in the way where we mean what we’re talking about. If we don’t mean we should defund the police, we shouldn’t say that.”

Those comments drew criticism from multiple parts of the Democratic Party. Her followup comments on that call, saying “we need to not ever use the word socialist or socialism ever again,” also drew fire. 

Spanberger argued that using those words did nothing but provide Republicans with campaign ad material.

Brian Carlton is Dogwood’s managing editor. You can reach him at [email protected].

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