Nancy Pelosi hangs on to remain House Democratic leader - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Nancy Pelosi hangs on to remain House Democratic leader

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(NBC) -

Rep Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was re-elected as leader of House Democrats Wednesday with the support of a majority of her colleagues after a high profile, serious challenge from Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, who promised a more inclusive Democratic Party.

This was the most serious challenger to Pelosi's leadership, a post she's held since 2003. Sixty-three members of her 198 member caucus voted in a secret ballot against her, showing deep discontent among her colleagues.

After a disappointing election where House Democrats picked up only six seats, unease over the current leadership escalated. Critics wanted new, younger leaders and more say in a caucus that has been tightly controlled by Pelosi and her lieutenants, Reps. Steny Hoyer of Maryland and James Clyburn of South Carolina.

Ryan, 43, promised a new vision with a new generation of leadership. He ran on the plank that Democratic messaging and focus has played too much into identity politics and the party did too little to speak to struggling white, middle-class voters. Also just as importantly, he promised to open up leadership to younger, newer members.

That message resonated.

The last significant challenge to Pelosi was in 2010 when Republicans regained the majority and moderate Democratic Rep. Heath Shuler of North Carolina challenged her. He won 43 votes.

Pelosi did not speak directly to her colleagues but instead had six supporters make the case for her. They divided their time among the slotted 11 minutes and all touched on the theme of the need for experience, according to a source in the room.

"I'm convinced Nancy Pelosi is best equipped to lead this caucus in what is a dangerous time," said Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J.

"We need the very best to lead us ... No one is a better tactician than Nancy Pelosi," said her California colleague, Rep. Adam Schiff.

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