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Ayanna Pressley says she will support Nancy Pelosi for House speaker

Ayanna Pressley in October.
Ayanna Pressley in October.(Mary Schwalm/Associated Press/File)

Ending weeks of speculation, US Representative-elect Ayanna Pressley on Monday announced that she’s backing longtime California Democrat Nancy Pelosi in her bid to reclaim the title of House speaker in January.

“I am supporting Barbara Lee for Caucus Chair, Katherine Clark [of Melrose] for Vice Chair and Nancy Pelosi for Speaker,” Pressley said in a statement. “Who is in a formal leadership role matters, and these women have a strong progressive track record, but this 116th Congress will be defined by more than who holds a title.”

Pressley’s announcement came days after the Globe reported that just over half of the House Democrats from New England, whose party captured every House seat in the region in the midterm elections, were publicly supporting Pelosi to serve as the next speaker.

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Also backing Pelosi are Representatives Bill Keating of Bourne, Clark, and Joe Kennedy III of Newton. Salem Democrat Seth Moulton, one of Pelosi’s most outspoken critics in the party, and Representative Stephen Lynch of South Boston have said they won’t support her.

The entire Massachusetts congressional delegation is Democratic.

Pressley, of Boston, unseated 10-term Representative Michael Capuano in a Democratic primary earlier this year and then won the general election.

“I have lived and campaigned by the mantra that I do not need to ask permission to lead,” Pressley said Monday. “We need bold gun violence legislation that saves lives, a Green New Deal, justice for survivors, and urgent action on voting rights. In partnership and coalition with our communities, we are ready to fight toward these critical goals.”

She said she had “discussed with candidates for leadership . . . the urgent need for gun violence legislation. At home in the 7th District, gun violence continues to rob us of our friends and neighbors. My first week in Washington was marred by three fatal shootings in our community.”

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Pressley’s support for Pelosi, she said, “is motivated by her progressive track record and her express commitment to bring a background check bill to the floor as an early priority this Congress. I have been appointed to the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force and will work in close partnership with my colleagues, advocates, and impacted communities to address the epidemic of gun violence. Our mandate is clear: to push legislation that saves as many lives as possible as quickly as possible. As I return to Washington today, I am deliberate and focused on the work ahead.”

Pelosi previously served as House speaker from 2007 to 2011.


James Pindell of the Globe Staff contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.