Two newly elected Democrats from South Jersey — Andy Kim and Jeff Van Drew — voted against nominating Nancy Pelosi for House speaker in a closed caucus vote Wednesday, though they left room for maneuvering before the full floor vote in January.
"I decided not to support Leader Pelosi in today's caucus vote and I continue to urge leaders in Congress to find ways to lift up more voices," Kim, of Burlington County, said in a statement.
He had called for "new leadership" during his campaign against Republican Rep. Tom MacArthur.
Van Drew, of Cape May County, indicated he might vote "present" on the floor, which would not penalize Pelosi. (Such votes aren't counted as cast and thus lower the threshold for a majority).
Van Drew and Kim each won districts long held by Republicans, and the caucus vote presented them an opportunity to style themselves as independent-minded Democrats, though they also risked irritating liberal voters.
Four newly elected Democrats from the Philadelphia region had pledged to back Pelosi, as had all three of the area's returning House members.
"Nancy Pelosi's experience and negotiating skills will be beneficial for the new Congress and will aid the House's ability to get work done with a Republican majority Senate," said a statement from Rep. Susan Wild, a Democrat from the Lehigh Valley who took office this week after winning a special election and a full term.