As a candidate, Kim Schrier pledged not to take campaign cash from Nancy Pelosi and stressed the need for "new, energized" leadership. In her three short years as a congresswoman, however, the Washington Democrat has taken more than $30,000 from Pelosi and voted twice to make her speaker.
In September 2018, Schrier scrambled to distance herself from Pelosi after the then-House minority leader attended a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser in Seattle, with her campaign saying Schrier was "not part of" the event and was "not taking Nancy Pelosi's money." Months prior to the fundraiser, Schrier suggested she would not support Pelosi for House speaker, arguing that party leadership "needs to reflect this new, energized, forward-thinking party" and "that probably means it's not going to be Nancy Pelosi."
But just 10 days after her 2018 election, Schrier signed a letter that endorsed Pelosi for speaker and praised the California Democrat's "effective leadership." Schrier went on to accept a $2,000 campaign contribution from Pelosi just three months into her congressional tenure and has since taken $31,000 from the House speaker.
Schrier's decision to cozy up to Pelosi as a congresswoman despite her campaign rhetoric could be exploited by Republicans as they look to unseat the two-term incumbent and take control of the House in November. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) has already rallied Republicans around the familiar "Fire Pelosi" slogan, and after the Democratic leader announced her reelection bid Wednesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) suggested the GOP would place Pelosi at the center of its campaign messaging.
"When Nancy Pelosi said that she's going to run again for the House of Representatives, that's the best news I've heard as a Republican in a very long time," Graham said during a Wednesday Fox appearance. "It allows Republicans to tell the American people they're doubling down on this failed leadership. So we're in a great spot as Republicans."
Schrier's campaign did not return a request for comment on its decision to accept Pelosi's contributions and whether Schrier would vote for Pelosi as speaker should Democrats retain the House going into next year.
In addition to Schrier's ties to Pelosi, the Washington Democrat must navigate a difficult political environment due to President Joe Biden's rapidly declining popularity. On a national level, just 39 percent of registered voters approve of Biden, a January Monmouth poll shows. That figure has helped drive voters away from the Democratic Party in Schrier's state—according to a January Crosscut poll, the percentage of Washington voters who identify as Republican has jumped 10 points since July 2021.
While Schrier has recently attempted to distance herself from Biden on COVID, the Democrat proudly touted Biden's endorsement during her 2020 reelection bid. Schrier has also acknowledged that her party's coronavirus stimulus bill—which she voted for—led to inflation. Seventy-two percent of Washington voters say "rising prices" have had a "significantly negative" or "noticeable" effect on their day-to-day lives, the Crosscut poll shows.
Schrier is considered a top Republican target in the 2022 midterm elections. The Democrat defeated Republican Jesse Jensen—who is challenging Schrier again—by just 3 points in 2020. Attorney and business executive Matt Larkin is also running in the Republican primary to unseat Schrier.