By: Chad Pergram
Nancy Pelosi announced Wednesday that she plans to seek another term as House Democratic leader, though Democrats were unable to win back control of the chamber.
The longtime California Democratic congresswoman, known for her partisan style, acknowledged the party fell short in gaining the 25 additional seats necessary to take the majority but stressed the “unity” of the party.
“We don’t have the gavel,” she said. “We have something more important, we have unity.”
She later said: “I wouldn’t think of walking away.”
Pelosi initially stirred speculation when she declined to say a day earlier what her plans were. But she told a packed caucus meeting Wednesday morning that if Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., continues to lead the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, she will be happy to place her hat in for another term as minority leader.
“The message is clear from the American people,” she told the caucus meeting while lauding the diversity of the new class of Democratic lawmakers, according to a Democratic leadership aide. “They want us to work together to get things done. And that’s what these folks are here to do. Just like all of you.”
Republicans, though, claimed Pelosi’s decision would relegate the party to minority status going forward.
“There is no better person to preside over the most liberal House Democratic Caucus in history than the woman who is solely responsible for relegating it to a prolonged minority status,” said Paul Lindsay, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. “This decision signals that House Democrats have absolutely no interest in regaining the trust and confidence of the American people who took the Speaker’s gavel away from Nancy Pelosi in the first place.”
On the other side of Capitol Hill, Senate Republicans swiftly elected their leadership team, selecting Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell for another term as minority leader. They chose Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, as Senate minority whip.
And in the House, the Republican conference formally tapped House Speaker John Boehner as its candidate for speaker next year. In another closely watched internal contest, Republicans also chose Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers for the No. 4 position of conference chair. Her race for that post against Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., was seen as somewhat of a proxy battle between battling wings of the party. Many staunch conservatives preferred Price, while those looking to diversify preferred McMorris Rodgers.
Pelosi, before formally announcing her decision Wednesday, stressed the growing number of women in the Democratic caucus.
She also said an “important motivator” for her was to try and change the role of money in campaigns. Though President Obama set the high-priced bar with his well-funded 2008 campaign — and ran a $1 billion campaign along with Mitt Romney this year — Pelosi tried to argue that Obama “had to spend” that much to “set the record straight.”
Pelosi’s quarter-century of service in Congress representing a San Francisco area district in the House includes becoming the first woman in history to serve as speaker. The Tea Party-fueled political wave of 2010 forced the gavel from her hand to Rep. John Boehner, an Ohio Republican.
Pelosi was a major force behind the passage of President Obama’s health care overhaul. After the 2010 elections, when her party lost 63 seats, Pelosi was reelected Democratic leader by her caucus.
Waiting in the wings of Democratic ranks was Pelosi’s deputy, Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the party whip.
The two have known each other since they were congressional interns and have a history of rivalry. Potential successors also could have included South Carolina Democrat James Clyburn, assistant to the Democratic leader; Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.; and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.