Democrats Refuse To Endorse Pelosi For Speaker

Posted: Sep 27, 2010 11:58 AM
The Speaker of the House must be voted for by a majority of Members at the start of every new Congress. Usually, it is a vote in name only -- a quick, low-key affair that simply affirms the pre-selected leader of the party in power. When the vote happens on the House floor, everyone in that party dutifully casts a ballot for him or her -- no questions asked.

It's not going to work that way this fall if Democrats don't win a big enough margin in the mid-term elections to overcome the members of their caucus who are quietly refusing to endorse Nancy Pelosi... five weeks before the election even takes place. Those moderate members are publicly refusing to endorse Pelosi now, because distancing themselves from the Speaker is the best thing they can do to save their skins on November 2. There has never been a better display of how scared Democrats are of being associated with the Obama-Pelosi agenda.
If Democrats keep control of the chamber, they may have a much more narrow majority, and moderates think they will have more leverage to pressure Pelosi toward the middle. Although unlikely, moderates could team up with Republicans and create enough of a coalition to oppose Pelosi for Speaker and nominate someone else when the House reorganizes next year.

Vulnerable Members from conservative-leaning districts would rather “not have to answer the Pelosi question,” a former Blue Dog Coalition aide said.

Pelosi has long held a powerful grip on her Caucus, but her influence has taken a hit in recent months, particularly as Democratic prospects for November have worsened. Even so, no Democrat has talked about challenging her.
Roll Call polled at least ten moderate Democrats, including Reps. Bobby Bright (Ala.), Jim Marshall (Ga.), Gene Taylor (Miss.) and Walt Minnick (Idaho), all of whom refused to publicly endorse Pelosi for a vote. Surprise, surprise -- Bright, Marshall, and Minnick are all in dangerously close re-election contests, and Marshall's district is so red that he can't even say the word "Democrat" lest he actually be confused with a member of his own party.

It would be a bombshell for a Democratically-controlled Congress to vote for a Republican speaker -- unprecedented, and probably impossible. More likely, but still alarming, would be a smaller group of moderate Democrats usurping Pelosi's leadership, and installing a more tempered Democrat in her place.