WASHINGTON — Rep. Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland won election today as chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, the fourth-ranking position in the party leadership.
Hoyer, 50, the deputy chairman of the caucus for the last 6 months, defeated Rep. Barbara B. Kennelly of Connecticut 165 to 82 in a closed meeting of House Democrats. Two votes were cast for others in the secret balloting.
The Maryland lawmaker, who first came to Congress in a special election in 1981, said he wants to "revitalize" the caucus, which holds meetings of all House Democrats on party policy positions.
The election was part of an ongoing effort by the Democrats to restore their leadership ranks in the wake of the ethics inquiries that led to the resignation of Speaker Jim Wright of Texas and Majority Whip Tony Coelho of Merced, the party's chief vote counter.
Rep. Thomas S. Foley (D-Wash.) succeeded Wright and Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) took Foley's post of majority leader. Hoyer succeeds Rep. William H. Gray III (D-Pa.), who was elected last week as majority whip.