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Speaker Nancy Pelosi Running for House Democratic Leader

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In the wake of her party's devastating midterm losses on Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Friday afternoon that she will run to stay on as leader of her party in the 112th Congress.

Although Pelosi was widely expected to step down from her leadership position immediately after the elections, she spent Wednesday and Thursday reaching out to colleagues to assess her strength within the Democratic caucus. Pelosi allies in the House also began placing phone calls to gauge her chances in a leadership race, Politics Daily learned.

Believing that she has enough backing, Pelosi sent a letter to her House colleagues on Friday announcing that she will run for minority leader when members choose their leaders later this month.

"Our work is far from finished. As a result of Tuesday's election, the role of Democrats in the 112th Congress will change, but our commitment to serving the American people will not," Pelosi wrote. "Based on (my) discussions, and driven by the urgency of protecting health care reform, Wall Street reform, and Social Security and Medicare, I have decided to run."

As news of Pelosi's surprise decision rocketed around Capitol Hill, Republicans delighted in the possibility that she might stay on as the leader of the House Democrats. As Pelosi's approval rating dropped to a historic low before the midterms, she became a potent target for GOP attack ads and a lucrative foil for Republican fundraising efforts.

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result," said Ken Spain, the communications director for House Republicans' campaign committee. "Of course, if House Democrats are willing to sacrifice more of their members in 2012 for the glory of Nancy Pelosi, we are happy to oblige them."

Pelosi's power has always come from the liberal members of the House Democratic caucus, most of whom retained their seats after Tuesday's elections.

In addition to loyalty from the left, Pelosi supporters point to several reasons she is the leader the party cannot afford to lose, including her vast fundraising network, her history building the House majority in 2006, her goodwill among liberal interest groups, and her mastery of the redistricting process, which Democrats will face next cycle. Since 2002, Pelosi has raised $231 million for her fellow Democrats.

"Was Tuesday bad? Yes," said a senior Democratic aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "Was it bad enough to wash away everything she's done for the party? I'm not so sure."

Related: Nancy Pelosi Has 'No Regrets' Following Midterm Rout

Experts: Pelosi Among Greatest House Speakers

Pelosi won't run unopposed. Rep. Health Shuler (D-N.C.) has announced that he'll challenge her, arguing that Pelosi is not the right leader for a Democratic bid to retake the majority. "If there's not a viable alternative -- like I said all along -- I can go recruit moderate members to run in swing districts," Shuler told Roll Call Thursday. "In that situation, I could do it better than she could, and that's what it's going to take. It's going to take moderate candidates to win back those seats."

Shuler was one of several moderate Blue Dog Democrats who distanced himself from Pelosi during his campaign for re-election as her approval ratings plummeted, even vowing not to support her for speaker again should the party retain the House. But more than half of the Blue Dog coalition went down in defeat Tuesday, and along with them, any serious movement to replace Pelosi with a more centrist Democratic leader such as Rep. Steny Hoyer.

Hoyer, now the second-ranking Democrat in the House, has long had the backing of moderate and conservative members. But Hoyer has said he would not challenge Pelosi and instead is considering a run to keep the Democrats' No. 2 job in the next Congress.

In another surprise announcement, Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina announced Friday he will for the same spot Hoyer is contemplating, a move that could set up a leadership battle royal between the two senior Democrats.

With her decision Friday, Pelosi is taking the opposite path of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who told his colleagues in Nov. 1998 that he would not only resign as speaker, but would leave the House entirely after he presided over a loss of five GOP seats in the 1998 midterm elections and faced a brewing challenge to his leadership from fellow Republicans.

"I'm willing to lead, but I'm not willing to preside over people who are cannibals," Gingrich famously told a group of close colleagues. "My only fear would be that if I tried to stay, it would just overshadow whoever my successor is."

Gingrich's successor, Dennis Hastert, chose a different path after his party lost the House in 2006, announcing immediately after the elections that he would remain in Congress to represent his Illinois district, but would not try to keep his post as the Republican leader.

Although Gingrich and Hastert took themselves out of the leadership equation after electoral losses, history is full of speakers who remained as head of their caucuses through good times and bad.

The most familiar example for political buffs may be Texas Democrat Sam Rayburn, the longest-serving House speaker. He held the post three separate times and remained as Democratic minority leader between his speakerships when his party lost its House majority in 1947 and 1953.

Follow Patricia Murphy on Twitter @1PatriciaMurphy.
Filed Under: Nancy Pelosi, Congress

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WESTERN STATES

Pelosi's claim to the Minority Leader Post is unfounded. It is time for her to step down and quit grabbing for power. The democrats lost positions because of Pelosi's hardball tactics.

November 15 2010 at 2:11 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
cjcrmc

Pelosi in the minority leadership is not good for this country. She has dragged us down enough. We need someone new with new ideas and can work well with others. Pelosi is not that person.

November 15 2010 at 1:53 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
musicprodave

I hope she continues to lead the Democrats off the cliff!!

November 12 2010 at 4:21 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to musicprodave's comment
J S G

She will ..no doubt about it!

November 14 2010 at 6:33 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Rob & Kathy

I can't trust anyone who can't admit they were wrong... Ronald Reagan

November 11 2010 at 11:31 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
Francine

Although Pelosi got an awful lot done, the GOP has successfully demonized her. We need someone to call out the republicans on their hiprocicy. Someone who will face the cameras everyday and ask "where's the jobs", "How are they paying for these tax cuts".

November 09 2010 at 10:41 AM Report abuse -24 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Francine's comment
dansamga

HAHAHA, you just keep spelling like you did in this post! I don't know what "hyprocicy" is but she has been demopnized because she is a witch annd an evil person at her very core. It has never been American to take from one person and give to another. They would call that Robin Hood politics and she is the champion of that along with "Yomama". This country was founded on the concept of "you get what you work for" and "the harder you work, the further you will advance." The handouts to other countries, lazy citizens and illegal immigrants has got to come to an end. If it doesn't, we will see a mass exodus of hard working wealthy people to other countries who are sick of being over taxed. Who will the illegal and lazy steal from then? NOBODY, they will succumb to their own fate of becoming nothing because that is what they have worked for. Mayb e then they will finally learn to contribute. As for where are the jobs? Ask Nancy & YOMAMA, they have done away with millions of the jobs while doubling the number of government emplyees who make $150,000 or more in just two short years.

November 11 2010 at 7:18 AM Report abuse +10 rate up rate down Reply
galhank

Nancy Pelosi remaining as the Democratic leader in the Hose would be the same as the Democrats shooting themselves in the proverbial foot. Yes, she has raised a large amount of money for the party but she has also, alientated many moderate voters. Look at the results. The bottom line on this mid-term is that it was disaster for the Democrats. Pelosi, Reid and President Obama are the three leading Democrats and they are ultimately responsible. A positive note for the Democrats is that although the Republicans did post large gains in the House very few of the wins was by a large majority- in fact most were very close elections, less than a 10% difference in the vote. This is not an insurmountable difference but if Pelosi continues as the minority leader in the House, with her percieved confrontational leadrship style and extremely liberal views the Democrats should fully expect to fail in any attempts to regain lost seats.

November 08 2010 at 12:00 AM Report abuse +24 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to galhank's comment
Rogell

To the contrary galhang, that so called confrontational leadership style is aimed directly at the republican party. Her liberal views are reminicint of the district she represents. Moreover, the loss of seats were aimed at the blue dog democrats or moderates. The problem isn't so much with the democrats as it is the republicans; that is, McConnell, Boehnor, Cantor, Pence etc. Therein lies the problem - at least most of it anyway, not to mention the senate side of the house.

November 08 2010 at 9:55 PM Report abuse -23 rate up rate down Reply
dc walker

Her actions last December were unAmerican and a threat to the constitution of the United States. She wanted to DEEM she had enough votes to PASS the health care bill to the president without a tally vote. Tyranny. This way no voter would know how their representative voted. They use deem and pass to say this is so and so day in the House she wanted to do this on a trillion dollar bill and you people think its ok .. her actions would have subverted the constitution. Unbelieveable. you don't have to print this AOL I'm too incredulous with this woman's continued support.

November 07 2010 at 10:08 PM Report abuse +30 rate up rate down Reply
oldengineera2

Pelosi is poison to the independents needed to garner a consensus. I'd be happy to see the progressives torpedo their own hopes by remaining loyal to her.

November 07 2010 at 9:30 PM Report abuse +26 rate up rate down Reply
lookup412

Outstanding! Outstanding! Outstanding! Nancy Pelosi is the greatest. I am sincerely overjoyed that she will stay on.

November 07 2010 at 8:57 PM Report abuse -27 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to lookup412's comment
Rogell

So am I, and I hope she has the votes to match her enthusiasm...

November 08 2010 at 9:59 PM Report abuse -21 rate up rate down Reply
chasckeith

Give her, the big gavel, and send her on down the yellow brick road.

November 07 2010 at 8:17 PM Report abuse +24 rate up rate down Reply

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