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Opinion: Pelosi isn't good choice as speaker

When Democrats held a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives prior to 2011, Nancy Pelosi ran the show. For four years, she was the first woman to hold the powerful role of speaker of the house.

As Democrats seek to retake the House — they need a net gain of 23 seats in the November election to do so — it seems a forgone conclusion that Pelosi would be in position to reassume the role of speaker.

Not so fast, many candidates are saying, and we see that as a good thing.

In today's political environment, Pelosi isn't a good fit to lead the House if Democrats do retake it. House candidates from both parties are acknowledging the same, including the two men hoping to represent North Dakota in the House.

Kelly Armstrong told the Herald over the weekend that "the only positive thing Nancy Pelosi has done is help elect more Republicans across the country."

"She is a cheerleader for the environmental and social left, focusing more on identity politics than true policy," he said. "Pelosi does not care about hardworking North Dakota farmers, ranchers and small businesses, and she hates the fossil fuel industry. She is completely out of touch."

Since Armstrong is the Republican candidate in North Dakota, his answer is somewhat predictable. But his Democratic opponent, Mac Schneider, told the Herald earlier this summer that he, too, is against Pelosi resuming the speakership. He said that if he's elected, he won't support her if she seeks the job.

"I have been very clear since I started this campaign that I am going to vote for a change in leadership. I will not be voting for Ms. Pelosi," Schneider said. "I think we need a change, and more than that, I think we need someone who can deliver an economic message — someone who can come out to North Dakota and talk to farmers and ranchers and explain why Democratic policies are better for their pocketbooks."

That North Dakota — which has just one seat in the U.S. House — will not be supporting Pelosi is a good thing.

From a Democratic point of view, she has been effective. But she is from San Francisco — where politics differ from middle America — and at 78 years old she is nearing the end of her political career.

Yet it's her perceived divisiveness, her growing inability to rally Democrats around her, and falling favorability numbers that are most concerning. A USA Today report noted only 29 percent of the American electorate has a favorable opinion of Pelosi.

It won't get any better. Since there is no Democratic president to target during this election cycle, Republicans are focusing on Pelosi, which probably will reduce her favorability even more.

Worse, Democrats who are up for election are putting distance between themselves and Pelosi. More than two dozen Democratic candidates have pledged not to vote for Pelosi. That's not a strong indicator of Pelosi's leadership.

Considering the pall that hangs over American politics, the next House leader must be a unifyer who can work with both parties. That's not Pelosi.