Nancy Pelosi Staying as Minority Leader

Nancy Pelosi is strongly considering staying in Congress as Minority Leader. It's her job if she wants it.

UPDATE: Pelosi has confirmed the news via Twitter:

“Driven by the urgency of creating jobs & protecting #hcr, #wsr, Social Security & Medicare, I am running for Dem Leader.”

She further explained her decision in a statement.  ”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 said in a statement. “Many of our colleagues have called with their recommendations on how to continue our fight for the middle class, and have encouraged me to run for House Democratic Leader.”

Moderate Democratic Rep. Dan Boren of Oklahoma was the latest to urge Pelosi to step aside and not run for House Minority Leader. ”I cannot in good conscience support Nancy Pelosi as our leader,” Boren told CNN in a telephone interview, “I intend to support a more conservative Democrat, a Democratic alternative.” ”I think most people in the Democratic caucus are giving her room to make the room to retire, to leave gracefully. But, you know, I think it is important to see over the next 24-48 hours if we will see an alternative emerge,” Boren said.

AP’s Charles Babbington points out that there’s another problem:

Pelosi’s decision could set off a fierce battle for the No. 2 leadership job, now held by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland. The party’s third-ranking leader, House Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, said he will try to keep the job, which will become the second in command when Democrats become the minority.

If Clyburn — the highest-ranking African American in the House — prevails, Hoyer would be forced out of the leadership ranks. Democratic aides said Hoyer will take a few days to decide whether to compete with Clyburn for the job.

“Our work is far from finished,” Pelosi said in a letter to colleagues. “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. We have no intention of allowing our great achievements to be rolled back.”

I hadn’t considered the fact that one of the three top Democrats would have to go — a fact obvious upon reflection — but it does complicate things a bit. But I don’t get the sense House Democrats blame Pelosi for their defeat.



It was widely assumed that, if the Democrats lost control of the House in Tuesday’s elections — which, for those who may have missed it, they did — that Nancy Pelosi would step down from the leadership and probably resign from Congress altogether rather than fight to lead the minority.   ABC’s Jonathan Karl says that may not be the case:

High-level Democratic sources in the House tell ABC News Pelosi is seriously considering staying in Congress and running for the position of minority leader.

Pelosi is methodically calling every Democratic House member who won on Tuesday, as well as many who lost, sources tell ABC News. In the process, she is weighing her options and gauging her support.

Some of Pelosi’s closest allies are encouraging her to stay and to lead the Democratic effort to win back their majority. Those encouraging her are arguing, in part, that she can unify the progressives in the caucus, and more importantly, that nobody in the House can raise money for the next campaign better than Pelosi.

Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC), a member of the conservative Democratic Blue Dog coalition, is urging Pelosi not to run and threatening to challenge her if she does. Another member of the Blue Dog coalition, Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT), told Politico that Pelosi should not stay on.


“In our caucus, we always do things by consensus. And when we have that consensus, we’ll have some announcement to make,” Pelosi said. ”I’ll have a conversation with my caucus, I’ll have a conversation with my family and – pray over it, and decide how – to go forward. But today isn’t that day. Today is the day to congratulate John Boehner and the Republicans, to speak and listen to my colleagues who are not coming back. To again, respect the wishes of the American people.” Pelosi added, “It’s never been about me. It’s about how our caucus goes forward to fight, continue our fight for the middle class.”

It’s her job if she wants it.  There are only 28 remaining Blue Dogs in the Democratic coalition, which will be much more dominated by its progressive wing than in the last Congress. And Steny Hoyer isn’t going to challenge Pelosi.

The only question is whether it’s worth it to her to stay and fight an uphill battle.  She’s 70 years old and filthy, stinking rich.  Most people in that position would ride off into the sunset. But you don’t get to be Speaker of the House by being normal.

AllahPundit terms this “Great, great news.”   Aside from being a brand name, though, I’m not sure Pelosi would be much use as a lightning rod in the minority.  It’s not like the Senate, where crafty opposition leaders can tie legislation up in knots.  Her ability to “get it done” will be nonexistent.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Wayne says:

    On a personal level I would like to see her go. However I think it would be much better for the Republican Party if she stays. So I hope she stays.

  2. DavidL says:

    Mrs. Pelosi, the face that ended sixty congressional careers …. and counting.