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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Heath Shuler And Others To Challenge Pelosi For Minority Leadership Position

With a growing number of Democrats publicly stating they will not support Nancy Pelosi for the position of House minority leader after she presided over the worst Democratic loss of seats in the House in 72 years, calling her toxic and even sending a letter asking that vote on the issue be delayed until Democrats could "fully understand the causes for our historic losses", until now no one has stepped up to challenge her or spoken about it.

“It is inescapable that the message that was sent by the American people is they want a change in direction. And a change in direction means a change in leadership,” Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.) said on Fox News last week.

Democratic Reps. Xavier Becerra (Calif.), Chris Van Hollen (Md.), Joseph Crowley (N.Y.) and Diana DeGette (Colo.), among others, were all seen as top contenders to move up but have found themselves in limbo as Pelosi locks down the minority-leader post and Hoyer and Clyburn vie for whip. Becerra is trying to hold on to the vice chairmanship of the caucus, while Van Hollen, the campaign chief appointed by Pelosi as assistant to the Speaker, is for now on the outside looking in. He is now seeking the top Democratic position on the House Budget Committee.

None of those lawmakers has complained publicly about being shut out, but other Democrats have warned that the party risks ignoring a message from voters if they keep the same leaders in place.

“We can’t let them sit on the bench for too much longer,” one Democratic aide said, referring to the party’s younger lawmakers. “There’s a push to add in some new ideas and new faces and new energy.”

Word now is that Representative Heath Shuler (D-N.C.)may announce plans to challenge Pelosi for minority leader on an appearance scheduled for CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday and MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program on Monday.

May does not mean he definitely will and I guess people will have to wait until Sunday to know, but interestingly enough, the same article from The Hill that reported this also reported that others are planning to challenge her as well.

Shuler's North Carolina colleague, Rep. Mike McIntyre (D), said there are a "number of people" considering challenges to Pelosi.

"I've been on the phone constantly in the last few days with others who are considering the possibility," he told WECT radio. "There's a number of people and right now that's in process. I've probably talked with four to five people in the more moderate conservative part of the party, and those discussions are ongoing."

There is not much chance for anybody to actually win such a challenge against Pelosi, many expected after such a rout on November 2, 2010, she would simply step aside for the good of the party and when she did not, Republicans rejoiced and some Democrats publicly spoke up against the idea, with Ohio Representative Tim Ryan, a longtime Pelosi ally stating "We had some really good, substantive things to talk about that we didn't talk about and there's plenty of blame to go around. She's obviously in charge so she needs to take the brunt of the responsibility for it. I was brought up to be loyal to people who helped you and I want to be — but at the expense of what? I think we have to sit down as a Democratic Caucus in D.C. and ask what direction are we going in."

Pelosi has made the rounds denying her responsibility for the massive Democratic losses and Barack Obama has thrown his support behind Pelosi saying she has been an "outstanding partner" in advancing his agenda.

Pelosi also made the claim that Republicans do not get to choose who leads the Democratic party and I wholeheartedly agree with that, but since the NRC was one of the first to encourage her not step aside and in fact replaced their "Fire Pelosi" sign (after she was fired from the position of Speaker of the House during midterms) with a banner that now reads "Hire Pelosi", her statement about Republicans choosing is utterly irrelevant since she is playing right into their hands to begin with.

Perhaps one reason so many Democrats are against Pelosi staying in the Democratic leadership spot is that she has the lowest favorability ratings among all congressional figures which does not bode well for the Democratic party as a whole if they cannot even replace someone who is disliked by the majority of Americans that intensely.