Swing-district Democrat Jahana Hayes pledged to oppose Nancy Pelosi for House speaker in 2018. Now, the Connecticut congresswoman is one of Pelosi's biggest supporters.
During a May 5 virtual event with top teachers' union leaders, Hayes heaped praise on Pelosi, saying she feels "incredibly blessed" and "incredibly privileged" to serve under the California Democrat. "I'm just so humbled to be able to say that I served in the Congress with Nancy Pelosi," Hayes added.
Hayes's gushing admiration for Pelosi is a significant shift from the Democrat's rhetoric during her first congressional run in 2018. Hayes explicitly promised she wouldn't back Pelosi for House speaker, arguing that Democrats needed a "generational shift in leadership." But Hayes quickly reneged on that pledge and falsely said a vote against Pelosi would be "a vote for the Republicans."
The virtual event also saw Hayes express her support for President Joe Biden, who she said "listens" and "wants to be helpful." Hayes's decision to tether herself to Biden may backfire as she navigates a difficult reelection bid in Connecticut's Fifth Congressional District. Biden's political standing in the state has rapidly declined since he won it by a whopping 20 points in 2020. According to a May Civiqs poll, just 38 percent of registered Connecticut voters approve of the president, while 50 percent disapprove.
In addition to Pelosi, Hayes appeared at the virtual event alongside American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten and National Education Association president Becky Pringle. That connection could also provoke political backlash—Connecticut teachers' union leaders, including the state's AFT president, in January vocally opposed a return to in-person learning, instead arguing in favor of a remote option due to safety concerns. Some unionized teachers responded by wearing black to school as a form of protest.
Hayes joined Congress in 2019, replacing outgoing Democratic incumbent Elizabeth Esty. While Hayes's district is the least liberal in Connecticut, she has deep ties to far-left "Squad" members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) and Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.). In February 2019, the trio appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone, which also featured Pelosi.
Hayes's campaign did not immediately return a request for comment.