Newly minted U.S. Rep. Jason Crow, an Aurora Democrat, stuck to his guns Thursday by refusing to vote for Nancy Pelosi for House speaker and instead cast his vote for U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois.
The other members of Colorado's House delegation voted for the nominees put forward by the two party caucuses — Democrat Pelosi, who won the speaker's gavel with 220 votes, and California Republican Kevin McCarthy, the incoming House minority leader, who received 192 votes.
After the balloting, Crow said he's looking forward to working under Pelosi but insisted he had to vote against her to fulfill a campaign pledge to help usher in "a new generation leadership."
Crow, an attorney and Army veteran, became the first Democrat to represent the Aurora-based 6th Congressional District when he unseated five-term Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman.
“I believe we need a new generation of leadership in our country," Crow said in a statement after the vote. "That is a belief that extends beyond party and even towards politicians and leaders whom I greatly admire, as is the case in today’s vote. But I stand by my pledge to the 6th District."
Crow noted that he nominated Duckworth — who also received a vote from incoming U.S. Rep. Max Rose, a New York Democrat and Army veteran who ousted an incumbent Republican in November — because she depicts "what that new generation of leadership looks like."
"As a veteran, mother of a young child, and woman of color, Senator Duckworth exemplifies exactly that," Crow said. "There is no shortage of brilliant, talented folks in our caucus, and I hope we as a party can continue to lift them up as leaders."
He added: “I look forward to working with Speaker Pelosi, who I know will lead Democrats forward in unity. Now is the time to refocus the fight on ending this absurd shutdown and re-opening our government for business.”
Crow was one of 15 Democrats who voted "present" or for someone other than Pelosi, while six Republicans voted for alternatives to McCarthy.
Among the Democrats who got votes from the Pelosi naysayers: U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos of Illinois, the new head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee; former Vice President Joe Biden; civil rights icon U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia; U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III of Massachusetts; failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacy Abrams; U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio, who mounted a brief challenge to Pelosi in November; and U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Florida.
Five Republicans cast ballots for ultra-conservative U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, a co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus, while libertarian-minded U.S. Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan voted for U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky.
House rules don't require that the chamber's speaker be a member of the House of Representatives, though that's always who has been elected.
Over the years, the occasional political celebrity has gotten a vote for speaker, but more members broke ranks this year than usual.
U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, the Arvada Democrat who brokered a deal in December between Pelosi and a number of her Democratic critics, said he was proud to vote for her.
"I am proud to support Nancy Pelosi for speaker today," Perlmutter tweeted. "I worked with her to secure generational change in the Democratic Caucus and am confident she is the best person to lead a very diverse and ambitious caucus while contending with the difficult challenges facing the country."
Perlmutter helped secure enough votes to put Pelosi over the top after she agreed to impose a four-year term limit on herself and her two chief deputies, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland and Democratic Whip Jim Clyburn of Georgia. (Pelosi, Hoyer and Clyburn have held the top three House Democratic leadership positions for 16 years, a duration that has sparked calls for fresh faces at the helm.)
A spokesman for the Republican National Committee wasn't impressed with Crow's vote or Perlmutter's deal.
"We said it all along — a vote for any Democrat was a vote for Nancy Pelosi at the Speaker's helm," said Kyle Kohli, the RNC's Colorado communications director in a statement.
"Today, Ed Perlmutter and countless other Democrats proved that despite their tough talk to voters, they are nothing but a rubber stamp for Nancy Pelosi's radical agenda of higher taxes and obstructionism.
"While Jason Crow did not vote for Pelosi, no one should be under any illusion that he did not do so without her explicit permission. Between Perlmutter caving and Crow's choreographed vote, Nancy Pelosi won today, and Colorado voters lost."
Pelosi said last summer she didn't mind if Democratic House candidates like Crow were pledging to oppose her — “If they have to do that to win the election, I’m all for winning,” she said — but a source close to Pelosi in late December told Colorado Politics it was ridiculous to think Pelosi wanted opponents to vote against her.