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Democratic candidates shun Nancy Pelosi amid hopes of "blue wave"

Democrats like their chances in Election 2018 as they hope President Trump’s unfavorables will help them win the House in November.

But Republicans have their own emblematic figure they are using to paint a dark picture of the ramifications of a “blue wave.”

As much as Democrats expect and hope people are ready to get out and vote against Donald Trump, Republicans think and hope the same may be true for the House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.

Republicans are trying to tie Democrats to Pelosi, who isn’t exactly popular in middle America.

But Democratic candidates aren’t playing along.

Democrats in open or swing seats in Michigan are following the example set by Conor Lamb, a Democrat from Pennsylvania who recently won a competitive, special election for an open seat in a district that Trump carried by 20 points.

Lamb avoided the Pelosi trap by committing that he would not vote for her to be speaker if Democrats take the House in November.

We’re hearing the same thing here in Michigan from Democratic candidates like Elissa Slotkin.

Slotkin is running in Michigan’s Eighth Congressional district, currently represented by Republican incumbent Mike Bishop. She say she’s a no vote on Speaker Pelosi. “If I am elected and I am in a position to vote for speaker, I’m going to vote for the person who’s going to do the most for Michigan, for our community, and, at this point, I think that’s someone else.”

Look for the same in the 11th Congressional District in southeast Michigan, which is an open, competitive seat, and the 1st Congressional District in northern Michigan. These are seats where Democrats will run against Trump, Republicans, and their own party establishment.

But, does this mean Nancy Pelosi’s in trouble if Democrats take the majority in DC? Well, nothing’s impossible, but keep in mind that most of the Democrats who win in November will be returning incumbents. These are Democratic lawmakers who’ve already voted multiple times to make Pelosi their leader, whether it’s in the majority or the minority.

Swing seat Democrats are trying to make sure Pelosi doesn’t become a distraction from what they want the campaign to be about: a referendum on Donald Trump and Republican control in D.C.

Zoe Clark is Michigan Public's Political Director. In this role, Clark guides coverage of the state Capitol, elections, and policy debates.
Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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