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House Democrat: Time for Pelosi to 'pass a torch'

A leading House Democrat called for leadership changes in her party Thursday, saying that it's "time to pass a torch to a new generation of leaders."

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David Wright (CNN)
(CNN) — A leading House Democrat called for leadership changes in her party Thursday, saying that it's "time to pass a torch to a new generation of leaders."

California Rep. Linda Sanchez -- the vice chairwoman of the House Democratic caucus, former chair of the Hispanic Caucus, and the No. 5 ranked Democrat in the House -- was interviewed by reporters from The Washington Post on C-SPAN Thursday, and made the case for change, saying the time had come for leader Nancy Pelosi and her team, Reps. Steny Hoyer and Jim Clyburn.

"I do think we have this real breadth and depth of talent within our caucus, and I do think it's time to pass a torch to a new generation of leaders, and I want to be a part of that transition," Sanchez said.

"I think we have too many great members here that don't always get the opportunities they should. I would like to see that change," she continued.

Sanchez was asked to elaborate, and said that Pelosi's leadership team "are all of the same generation, and again, their contributions to the Congress and the caucus are substantial." But, she added, "there comes a time when you need to pass that torch."

"I think it's time," she said.

Sanchez is the latest to join a small but persistent push among some in the caucus for new leadership, driven in party by Democrats' losses in 2016 and Republicans' eagerness to employ Nancy Pelosi as a conservative bogeyman.

Rep. Tim Ryan, an Ohio Democrat, launched an effort to unseat Pelosi shortly after the election in November, though he was unsuccessful, citing the need for Democrats to refocus their messaging and improve outreach to rust-belt voters. Murphy has since dropped his bid.

In June, following Democrats' loss in a Georgia special election, New York Rep. Kathleen Rice met with colleagues and discussed dissatisfaction with Democratic leadership in the House. And while she didn't seek Pelosi's immediate ouster, or express interest in becoming minority leader herself, Rice told CNN that "it's time for Nancy Pelosi to go, and the entire leadership team."

Pelosi, for her part, has waved off the intermittent challenges. In response to Rice's comments in June, the minority leader said that "I respect the comments of some in our caucus, but right now we must be unified in order to defeat Trumpcare."

And at a weekly news conference that same month, Pelosi defended her record as leader -- she called herself a "master legislator," and quipped, "I'm worth the trouble, quite frankly. I love the fray."

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley, a New York Democrat, praised Pelosi and the other top Democrats in the chamber in a statement following Sanchez's comments.

"Leader Pelosi, Whip Hoyer, and Assistant Leader Clyburn work harder and smarter each and every day for our members and our party," Crowley said. "The truth is we have pressing needs in this country -- ones President Trump and the Republican-led Congress have been unable to address over the last 258 days. The Democratic Caucus stands united behind our leadership team in the fight to make this country stronger, and our focus shall remain on getting the GOP to address the crises in Texas, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and gun safety, the DREAMers, economic growth, job creation and much more."

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