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Pelosi: Conor Lamb's win wasn't because he criticized my leadership

by Rebecca Shabad /

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WASHINGTON — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Thursday she doesn't think that Democrat Conor Lamb's disavowal of her leadership in his special election race aided his apparent victory in Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District.

"I don't think that that really had that much impact on the race," the California Democrat said at her weekly press conference Thursday. "He won. If we hadn't won, you might have a question, but we won — the 'D' next to his name was very significant."

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Lamb presented himself as a Pelosi critic during the race. Pelosi was asked Thursday if she's concerned that his apparent victory signals that there won't be a major wave for Democrats in November's midterm elections.

"No," she said. "It's a district that not only did Trump carry it big, but [Mitt] Romney carried it big. This is a Republican district."

Lamb narrowly defeated Republican Rick Saccone, which prompted Republicans on Capitol Hill to sound the alarm about their party's midterm prospects.

Pelosi said she didn't believe Lamb ran against her "the entire time." Instead, she argued, it was more of an issues-oriented campaign, with Lamb's Democratic views on Medicare, health care and labor playing a major role in his election.

She said she felt "pretty confident" about her ability to serve as a "master legislator," adding, "I have a strong following in the country and I don't think that the Koch Brothers should decide who the leader of the Democratic Party is in the House."

While the National Republican Congressional Committee and outside conservative groups ran ads during the Pennsylvania race attacking Pelosi, so did Lamb. In an interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Wednesday morning, Lamb reiterated that he doesn't support Pelosi as the Democratic leader.

"I have said, and I continue to say, that I think we need new leadership at the top of both parties in the House. And so I'd like to see someone besides Nancy Pelosi run and that's who I would support," said Lamb, who added that it's "nothing personal" and that the leadership in both parties have faced extreme gridlock under their watches.

Asked what message she'd like to send to incumbent candidates, Pelosi suggested that attacking her won't help. She also pointed to a Democratic primary in Texas, where congressional candidate Jay Hulings — who said she should be replaced — came in fourth place despite nabbing several high-profile endorsements.

"Let's not read too much into this," she said.

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