U.S. Rep.-elect Antonio Delgado (D-Rhinebeck) announced on Wednesday that he would back current House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in her bid to become speaker of the House when Congress convenes with a new Democratic majority next year. Delgado said he pledged his support to the 16-term incumbent Bay Area congresswoman following a meeting to discuss legislation he considers critical to New York’s 19th Congressional District.
“Based on our conversations and her commitment to prioritize issues critically important to the district, I have decided to support Leader Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House,” Delgado said in a statement Wednesday, Nov. 28.
Pelosi, 78, has served in the House leadership since 2002 including a previous stint as speaker from 2007-2011. Following an election that will send a wave of new, young and more progressive Democrats to Washington in January, Pelosi faced the threat of an insurgency from caucus members seeking new blood and a different vision for the party’s future.
During the campaign, Delgado told a debate audience that he would not accept an endorsement from Pelosi if she offered. He later explained that it was because he wanted to keep his focus on his would-be constituents and send the message that their needs, not those of party leaders, were his priority. Delgado reiterated that language in Wednesday’s statement.
“I have always said that the only people I am beholden to are the people of my district,” said Delgado. “Every decision I make as their representative will be to best serve them.”
Delgado said he threw his support behind Pelosi’s leadership bid after meeting with her to discuss legislative priorities. Delgado said that among the topics addressed were increasing broadband Internet access in rural communities, dealing with contaminated water crises in Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh and combating opioid addiction. Delgado said they had also discussed him taking a leadership role in a bipartisan heroin task force with the goal of offering better coverage for treatment and increasing prevention efforts in rural communities.