Democratic Rep. Filemon Vela (Texas) called House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) an "obvious obstacle" to Democrats taking back a majority in the chamber, saying there is "no way in hell" they can do it with her in leadership.
In an interview with BuzzFeed, Vela, whose south Texas district is safely Democratic, said Pelosi was a clear "drag" on candidates in swing districts. Democrats are hoping to win back a majority in the House in 2018 for the first time since losing it to the GOP in 2010.
Historically, the party out of the White House does well in midterms.
"When we go to 2018, if we’re going to win the majority, Democrats have to win swing districts, which means winning independent voters, swing voters, and even Republican moderates," Vela said. "The problem is that in that demographic … it is real clear that the drag on our candidates is Nancy Pelosi."
"If you have an obvious obstacle, why not remove it?" he added.
It's not a new criticism from him.
After Democratic Georgia congressional candidate Jon Ossoff lost his special election race in June, Vela told Fox News the party needed new leadership. He was one of several Democratic voices in the House who called for Pelosi to step down after Republicans successfully tied Ossoff to her in that race.
"I think you'd have to be an idiot to think we could win the House with Pelosi at the top," Vela said. "Nancy Pelosi is not the only reason that [Jon] Ossoff lost, but she certainly is one of the reasons."
BuzzFeed‘s report said crossing Pelosi, a powerful figure within the party and a prolific fundraiser, was "dangerous territory" for Vela.
"I don’t want to be quoted as saying she’s like a negative across the board. I think she’s a negative in the swing districts that matter most in terms of us being able to take the majority,"he said, adding he wasn't afraid to criticize her publicly.