Nancy Pelosi Facing More Opposition in Bid to Lead Democrats

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 11, 2010   |   12:04PM   |   Washington, DC

Nancy Pelosi is facing more opposition in her bid to keep her position as the leader of the Democrats in the House of Representatives.

The soon-to-be former Speaker of the House is hoping to keep her number one spot despite the pounding her fellow abortion advocates took in last week’s election. But some Democrats expressed opposition to her initial announcement that she will seek the Minority Leader post and that opposition is growing.

At least 15 Democrats have said publicly they may not or will not vote for her.

Illinois Rep. Mike Quigley, one of several Democrats who wants to see someone else lead the party, told the Associated Press, “The reality is that she is politically toxic.”

Rep. Jason Altmire of Pennsylvania added there is “starting to be a sense that this may not be as much of a done deal as people might have thought. If enough people come out and voice a little discomfort with the idea of her continuing on, maybe she would reconsider.”

Rep. Jim Matheson of Utah says some Democrats have expressed reservations but others have gone further and suggested they would not support Pelosi in either a public or a private vote.

“You would find an unusual number of people not voting for the nominee of their party” if Pelosi were the choice, he told AP. “There’s a growing number of people in the caucus saying, ‘Why’s she running for minority leader in the first place?’ We just got thumped in this election in a major way, and to act like we can just go back and do the same thing over again. It just seems like a very obvious situation when change is called for.”

Democrats are slated to hold leadership elections next week but they could be postponed if a consensus develops that someone else should step into Pelosi’s role.

The problem for Pelosi opponents, Matheson notes, is no viable alternative has stepped up to announce a bid against her — likely fearing reprisals if they lose. Rep. Health Schuler of North Carolina made initial waves but appears to have backed down.

But AP confirmed Rep. Dan Boren of Oklahoma plans to vote against Pelosi and Rep. Mike Ross of Arkansas added he wouldn’t back Pelosi “for House Democratic leader or any other leadership position in the Congress.”

The Pelosi mess has created a problem for Democrats on voting for the number two position of Minority Whip.

Current House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, an abortion advocate from Maryland, is the natural choice to keep her second spot behind Pelosi, but pro-abortion Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, the current number three Democrat, is challenging him in a race that is pitting black lawmakers and some liberals and moderates that back Hoyer.

The whole thing has some lawmakers calling for a delay so Pelosi and the race for her top lieutenant can be sorted out.

Reps. Peter DeFazio of Oregon and Marcy Kaptur of Ohio have sent letters to colleagues asking to delay the vote until December.

The questioning has gotten so heavy that even the liberal New York Times has called on Pelosi to stand aside.

And a group of unnamed Democrats already sent her a letter telling her they want someone else.

“Madam Speaker, fairly or unfairly, Republicans made you the face of the resentment and disagreement in our races,” the letter Fox News obtained says. “While we commend your years of service to our party and your leadership through many tough times, we respectfully ask that you step aside as the top Democrat in the House.”

The letter goes on to say that the defeated members “fear that Republicans will further demonize you, and in so doing, they will scare potential candidates out. The prospect of having to run against their own party leadership, in addition to their Republican opponent is simply too daunting.”

It says “one mark of a strong leader is the ability to discern when it is time to pass the baton” and closes with a request for Pelosi to step aside.

On the Republican side, pro-life Rep. John Boehner is expected to become the next Speaker of the House and he is a pro-life champion. Other top leaders assisting him are expected to be pro-life lawmakers.