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Sid in his law office where he sits when meeting with clients. Observant eyes will notice the statuette of one of Sid's favorite Democrats.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Pelosi Bids to Keep Post - Democratic Centrists Decry Attempt to Stay On; Action Threatens to Fracture a Dem. Caucus Reeling from Election Defeat

From The Wall Street Journal:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who led Democrats to a huge defeat at the polls this week, stunned many in her party Friday by announcing she will seek to remain their leader in the new Republican-led Congress.

Ms. Pelosi's announcement came as a surprise after an election that saw her party lose 60 House seats, with a handful of races still too close to call. Past House speakers have left Congress entirely after similar drubbings, and some Democratic critics had called on Ms. Pelosi to step aside.

But Ms. Pelosi is all but certain to win the minority leader's post. In defeat, her caucus is more liberal and in tune with her own views. At least 22 of the 55 conservative House Democrats, known collectively as the Blue Dog Coalition, were defeated in the midterm elections, and six others retired. So far, no other candidate for Democratic leader has surfaced.

Ms. Pelosi's decision, like the post-election message coming from President Barack Obama, sent a signal that Democrats don't see their election defeat as a repudiation of their agenda and their leadership.

Her decision to remain in the leadership stunned conservative and centrist Democrats, who thought the public face of the party in the House should be someone more sympathetic to the views of conservative Democrats, the business community and deficit hawks.

Some Democrats said they worried that Ms. Pelosi's presence in the party leadership would hurt candidates—not just for Congress but also for state and local offices. Ms. Pelosi's image was used by Republicans across the country in ads against Democrats for state legislative races.

Some centrist Democrats had hoped Ms. Pelosi would step aside for the current No. 2 House leader, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D., Md.), who is seen as more in tune with their outlook and better equipped to rebuild the party.

An aide to Ms. Pelosi said the White House didn't weigh in on her decision. One senior White House official welcomed it, saying she was a loyal ally for the president.

Republicans could scarcely suppress their glee that Ms. Pelosi would remain on the scene. They believe that an aversion to the House speaker helped Republicans energize their own base and win independent voters, 55% of whom backed the GOP this year, a swing of 16 percentage points from the last midterm election.

Ms. Pelosi's decision to seek another term as the top House Democrat has the potential to squeeze Mr. Hoyer out of the leadership. The two had been rivals for the speaker's job but forged a working relationship during the past four years.

Within minutes of Ms. Pelosi's announcement, party whip James Clyburn of South Carolina and Caucus Chairman John Larson of Connecticut announced their intention to retain their jobs, which would be the No. 2 and No. 3 slots in the minority caucus.

Those announcements leave Mr. Hoyer with a decision to make. He can run against Mr. Clyburn, an African-American who rose to prominence during the Civil Rights movement; seek a lesser post; or step aside altogether. His political base inside the caucus was decimated on election night with the defeat of the Blue Dogs.

"This is a party that has to restore its standing with the center,'' said Will Marshall, president of the Progressive Policy Institute, a centrist think tank. "This is a time for Democrats to consider fresh leadership.''

House Democrats will meet in a closed-party caucus to chose their new leadership lineup later this month–probably when Congress returns for a lame-duck session Nov. 15. Ms. Pelosi is expected to win the secret-ballot election, even if she draws a challenger.

The New York Times notes:

Her decision to seek the role of minority leader threatened to fracture a Democratic caucus reeling from the defeat of at least 60 House members, many of them moderates and conservatives who paid a price for being tied to the speaker. It also means that the woman who had become a polarizing political figure will likely remain the face of House Democrats as they try to rebuild.

Fellow Democrats warned that her presence could deter candidates from running in 2012 in an effort to regain the lost ground and could also drive more moderate Democrats toward newly empowered Republicans on legislation, giving them a chance to claim they have bipartisan support.

Friday’s decision was aimed at least in part at stemming a quickening revolt among House Democrats who wanted her to step aside. Several lawmakers had gone public with their opposition and many others were privately expressing serious reservations.


Blogger john bailo said...

There is no more Democrat party...there is no longer any electorate base supporting it. The centrists should just switch sides and become Republicans.

7:00 AM  

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