(CNN) — House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi met Friday with prominent Democratic critics including Rep. Marcia Fudge, an Ohio lawmaker who is considering whether to run for House speaker and challenge Pelosi, who is seeking a return to the role leading the party when it retakes the majority in the new Congress.
With Democrats’ recapturing of the House majority in the midterms, Pelosi has consistently positioned herself to be the next House speaker, a position she held from 2007 to 2011. While Pelosi has been a fundraising juggernaut with allies throughout the caucus, many Democrats ran this fall on a message of refusing to support Pelosi’s leadership.
Fudge was among 17 signees to a letter written by a mixture of incumbent and would-be Democratic members who pledged not to vote for Pelosi in January.
Pelosi is meeting with at least two other signers of that letter Friday, Reps.-elect Max Rose of New York and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, as well as two other incoming lawmakers Haley Stevens of Michigan and Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey.
Through a spokesman, Pelosi described the meeting with Fudge as “a candid and respectful conversation.” Pelosi’s office said the meeting was set up by Rep. Elijah Cummings, who is expected to become chairman of the influential House Oversight Committee in the next Congress.
On the way in, Fudge told reporters that Pelosi asked for the meeting, and she wouldn’t say whether she would run for speaker.
“The leader asked to meet with me. I’m going to see her,” Fudge told reporters on her way into the meeting.
Fudge told CNN on Thursday evening that she was undecided about her bid, but seems bolstered by the outreach she’s receiving.
“I have not made a decision, I’m still thinking about it,” she said outside of her office on Capitol Hill. “It’s a big decision. I mean, the speaker does an awful lot of things, the travel, the fundraising,” she said. Fudge said she wants to make sure she’s making the right decision.
Rose said Pelosi did not give him a pitch but quipped that she offered him a Coke and he accepted.
“Just an honest opportunity for me to introduce myself and talk more,” he said. “No pitch. No transactional politics.”
He said they talked “only a little bit” about the leadership race and that he made himself clear that he sticks to his promises. “She understands that and it was a great opportunity to talk to her.”
Pelosi has consistently made the case that she’s the strongest candidate for speaker and said earlier this week she’s confident her Democratic colleagues will elect her in the role. When asked about other Democrats seeking the speakership role earlier this week at a news conference, Pelosi responded “Come on in, the water’s warm.”
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