Rep. Jared Golden was the first Democratic defection in the House speaker vote Sunday, casting his bid for Iraq War veteran Sen. Tammy Duckworth.
The move was widely expected as Mr. Golden, Maine Democrat, also bucked Nancy Pelosi in the 2019 speaker vote, when he voted for Rep. Cheri Bustos, then-House Democratic campaign chair.
He was joined by Rep. Conor Lamb, a Pennsylvania Democrat who also voted against Mrs. Pelosi in 2019. Mr. Lamb instead voted for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, Democratic Caucus chair and the lawmaker who officially nominated Mrs. Pelosi on Sunday.
While Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, and GOP leader Kevin McCarthy of California are both nominated for the speaker’s seat, members do not need to vote for either of them or even a member of the House.
The House speaker is determined by whoever gets a majority of those members voting by name. The number for a majority could shift, depending on how many members vote ‘present,’ neutralizing their vote.
Mrs. Pelosi is working with a razor-thin majority in her bid to retain the gavel — she can only afford to have a handful of her Democratic members to name someone other than herself in the vote.
In 2019, 15 Democrats did not back Mrs. Pelosi’s bid for speaker, though she had a much larger majority after the 2018 midterms.
One of those 15 members, Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, said Sunday she isn’t supporting Mrs. Pelosi either but will vote present instead.
Mr. McCarthy, on the other hand, hasn’t yet lost a single Republican vote.
The vote Sunday will stretch on longer than usual as members need to announce their votes one at a time and are breaking up the larger vote into groups to mitigate health risks related to the coronavirus pandemic.