House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is unlikely to lose her position when the House Democratic Caucus elects its leaders Wednesday but her challenger, Ohioan Tim Ryan, has already won concessions for younger and non-coastal members who feel they don’t have enough say.

The Californian who made history as the first woman to ascend to House speaker promised to bring newer members into leadership and influential committee positions after Ryan laid out plans for reforming how the caucus and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee operate as part of his pitch to colleagues.

“It is evident that Leader Pelosi’s proposed reforms will only serve to further consolidate her power over the caucus,” Ryan responded in a “dear colleague” letter circulated Monday. “There is a clear desire among our members to democratize and decentralize the Democratic Caucus by returning more power to our rank-and-file members and committees.”

Ryan criticized her proposal to reserve the assistant Democratic leader slot — No. 5 in the leadership lineup — for a newer member instead of expanding the number of leadership positions to accommodate more voices, as he suggested.

He also questioned her commitment to actually implementing the changes she proposes.

“Finally, members are concerned about our path forward on Wednesday,” he wrote. “There must be clarification of the rules and procedures that will be in place to address the many changes that have been proposed by Leader Pelosi.”

Taking on Pelosi, who has led House Democrats since 2002, would be an uphill battle for anyone. Ryan made his task even more difficult by waiting until the House broke for the Thanksgiving recess to announce his candidacy, leaving him with really just one day, Tuesday, to personally ask members for their votes in Wednesday morning’s secret balloting.

“I’m just banging away on the phone,” Ryan told the Washington Post about he spent the recess. “I can already tell from the phone calls,” that people are taking him seriously, Ryan said. “A lot of people say, ‘This is great. We’re going to be with you. Just don’t mention my name.’ Everyone knows that happens. That’s just the nature of the game.”

So far only three members have publicly backed him: Reps. Marcia Fudge, Ohio, Colorado’s Ed Perlmutter and New York’s Kathleen Rice. But 30 signed a letter asking Pelosi to postpone the elections, originally slated for Nov. 17. And many said they were open to considering new leadership before Ryan made his bid official.

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“He’s a new voice,” Rice said on CNN Monday. “We need new leadership. I was very clear when we came back to Washington after the election that we needed to at least start to have a conversation about what went wrong. Why are we so far in the minority and why, since 2010, have we been losing election cycle after election cycle?” she asked, echoing the main reason Ryan cited for challenging Pelosi.

Rice said she thinks Ryan can pull it off.

I think he has a really good chance of winning,” she continued. “I think that Tim has enormous support … I think the numbers are there and I think it’s going to be whether or not we, as a Democratic Caucus, decide that this is the time that we need new leadership.”

Most experts and odds-makers disagree.

“I would be stunned if he won,” the American Enterprise Institute’s Norm Ornstein said, projecting the seven-term congressman will only win 20-40 votes.

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The majority of Ryan votes will come from members who are just venting about the party’s losses, he said. “To blame Pelosi or the House Democratic leadership” for the party’s shellacking on Election Day “would be pretty ridiculous,” he said.

History and the caucus’ demographics work against Ryan as well.

Former Rep. Heath Shuler of North Carolina used the new blood argument against Pelosi in 2010. She pummeled the former NFL quarterback 150-43.

Beyond all the chits Pelosi has racked up over 14 years in leadership and after raising $567.9 million for the party, she hails from the caucus’ largest state delegation. Californians compose one-fifth of all House Democrats. Additionally, 66 women will vote Wednesday, 50 of whom signed a letter urging Pelosi to seek another term as leader. And Pelosi enjoys strong support among the “tri-” caucuses — the Congressional Black, Hispanic and Asian American caucuses whose members in the current Congress total 81.

Of course there is some overlap among those categories but they account for a significant chunk of the ballots that will be cast. Democrats will have at least 194 seats in the 115th Congress — two races still haven’t been called.

Before Ryan decided to take on Pelosi, she said she had the support of two-thirds of the caucus. She is confident she will prevail.

“I know how to do this,” she told Politico last week. “I’m not asking anyone to support me for what I have done, one thing or another, whether it’s politics or policy or money. I’m asking them to support me on what I will do in the future.”

Speaking on Meet the Press Sunday, Ryan said he likes his chances too.

“And we’re going to win,” he said. “We’re going to surprise a lot of people … there’s a lot of discord in our conference right now. People want to move forward. They want to change. They have all been home. I’ve been calling people over the holidays, which wasn’t exactly on my agenda. It was supposed to be football and turkey.”

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