If St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly is elected to Congress and he and his fellow Democrats are able to take control of the U.S. House of Representatives, Kelly will face a leadership vote.
While on the campaign trail, the Swansea Democrat seeking to unseat U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, has said he will not vote for Nancy Pelosi to be speaker of the House, no matter the situation.
“I will not be voting for Nancy Pelosi under any circumstance,” Kelly said. “I think what’s going to happen is we’ll have so many new people in Congress, that are veterans, that have a different life experience. You’re going to see a generational change in our leadership.
“It’s not just directed at one person,” Kelly added. “I think we need a whole leadership cadre at the top.”
Kelly hasn’t selected anyone in particular he would support for speaker.
“I will support the candidate for speaker that will do the most for the people of Southern Illinois,” Kelly said.
Kelly says his position isn’t motivated by political polling about Pelosi.
“I have never seen a poll that says one way or the other about her. It has nothing to do with her, as much as it is the need for the country to break the log jam that we find ourselves in,” Kelly said. “In order to overcome this divide we do have to have new people. We do need a new generation. I think the folks that are at the top now who have been in control of both parties for a long time are not moving the country passed those divisions.”
Opposing Nancy Pelosi
Kelly has raised money with Pelosi. Pelosi was advertised to appear at fundraisers in April and June for Illinois candidates, including the St. Clair County Democrat. In August, Kelly had a fundraiser with Steny Hoyer, the House minority party whip, one of Pelosi’s lieutenants, according to invitations shared by Republican operatives.
Kelly’s position on Pelosi is one held by many Democrats hoping to be a part of the 116th Congress. Nearly 60 Democratic representatives or candidates running for Congress have said they oppose Pelosi.
Earlier this summer, Pelosi, who wants to be speaker again, was asked about Democrats coming out against her being the House leader.
“We just want to win, that’s the simplest answer of all,” Pelosi said. “When I’m not in the Capitol and I’m some place else, I’m raising money to elect those very people.”
Republicans criticize Kelly
The National Republican Campaign Committee criticized Kelly for taking Pelosi’s help, and help from her lieutenants, to raise campaign dollars while calling for new leadership.
“If Brendan Kelly is going to talk the talk, then he needs to walk the walk too,” said NRCC spokeswoman Maddie Anderson. “If he truly wants ‘new leadership,’ he needs to return leadership’s money immediately.”
The Bost campaign also has criticized planned advertising in the area for the fall by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and House Majority PAC, a super PAC aligned with Democrats.
“If Brendan Kelly has an ounce of honesty in him, he should call for Nancy Pelosi and her D.C. cronies to pull all advertising from the 12th district,” said Dustin Rhodes, Bost’s campaign manager. “Anything short of that is just another example of his hypocritical doublespeak.”
Kelly called the criticism an act of desperation and called it a “divisive approach.”
“They can’t run on their records, they can’t run on any great thing they’ve done for the country,” Kelly said. “My opponent cannot run on anything great he has done for Southern Illinois, so he’s got to focus on these personalities.”
With current Speaker of the House Paul Ryan leaving the House at the end the term, Bost would have to vote for someone new if he’s elected. He has said he would support current House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, of California.
On the campaign trail, Bost has talked about how Pelosi wants be back in the speaker position if Democrats take back the House. In a television ad, the second-term congressman said he’s been fighting against Pelosi and that Kelly supports her.
“Regardless of what my opponent says, what he doesn’t understand is pressure will be put on him if all of a sudden they win, because her base in that caucus, still holds to her,” Bost said. “He’s never been through one of those votes when you’re arguing over who you’re going to be voting for the leader and/or speaker.”
Making campaign contributions
Pelosi or her political action committee have not given to Kelly, according to FEC records.
Pelosi has given money to several House members and candidates over the years. Some of those U.S. Representatives, such as Pete Aguilar of California and Bill Foster of Illinois, who have received contributions from Pelosi in previous cycles, have donated money to Kelly, FEC records say.
Kelly said there is no connection to Pelosi with the contributions.
“Legally we cannot coordinate with any of these independent expenditures,” Kelly said.
Green Party candidate Randy Auxier, of Murphysboro, also is running the 12th District.