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Seth Moulton, Stephen Lynch sign letter opposing Nancy Pelosi as speaker

Representative Seth Moulton, Democrat of Salem, is one of 16 who said they won’t back Nancy Pelosi’s bid to become House speaker.
Representative Seth Moulton, Democrat of Salem, is one of 16 who said they won’t back Nancy Pelosi’s bid to become House speaker.(Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff/File)

WASHINGTON — Sixteen House Democrats indicated in a letter Monday they won’t support Nancy Pelosi for House speaker and instead will vote for "new leadership."

While thanking Pelosi — who served as speaker from 2007 to 2011 — for her years of "historic" leadership, the letter said it’s time for change when their party takes control of the House in January.

Representatives Seth Moulton and Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts signed the letter.

No challenger to Pelosi has come forward, though, and the letter didn’t say what the group will do if no one emerges. The letter also didn’t say whether a lower-level change in leadership would satisfy the Democrats’ demand.

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“Our majority came on the backs of candidates who said that they would support new leadership because voters in hard-won districts, and across the country, want to see real change in Washington. We promised to change the status quo, and we intend to deliver on that promise,” the Democrats wrote. “Therefore, we are committed to voting for new leadership in both our caucus meeting and on the House floor.”

If the signees — which include only two women — stick to their promise, Pelosi’s road to regain the speaker’s gavel would be difficult, and even more so if they are joined by others.

Democrats will hold at least 232 seats in the Congress that begins in January, according to latest numbers from the Associated Press.

To replace retiring Republican Paul Ryan as speaker, Pelosi will need 218 votes for a majority — providing all members show up and vote for a named person, and assuming no Republicans vote for her.

Democrats will vote on a speaker candidate in a private meeting set for Nov. 28. However, party divisions could lead to a protracted fight that may be left unresolved until the floor vote for speaker on Jan. 3.

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