Will Nancy Pelosi pass Democratic leadership baton?

November 14, 2012|By Lisa Mascaro
  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif. gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif. gestures during a news conference… (Pablo Martinez / AP Photo )

WASHINGTON -- The question that has been circulating for weeks, if not longer, is about to be answered: Will Nancy Pelosi seek another term as the Democratic leader of the House?

The first female House speaker booked a Wednesday morning news conference, where she is expected to announce her decision.

And with that, the speculation began anew.

The nature of Pelosi's event, surrounded by the many newly elected women of the House, prompted two theories: Would this be a passing of the baton to a new era of female leaders? Or a victory lap by the Democratic minority leader, who succeeded in electing the most diverse caucus in U.S. history, even if her party did not regain the House majority?

Lawmakers said Tuesday they just did not know.

Many had expected Pelosi to step down two years ago, after Democrats lost the majority in a stunning rejection fueled by the tea party. But not only did Pelosi stay on as the minority leader, the 72-year-old San Francisco lawmaker became a whirlwind of election efforts, attending more than 650 candidate and fundraising events, practically one per day, and raising more money to elect Democrats than any other House lawmaker.

The internal party elections are scheduled for later this month. Pelosi's decision to stay or go is hers alone, colleagues said. Even though Republicans once targeted her as their chief opponent, no one has been expected to seriously challenge her, but her departure would spark an intense leadership battle.

If Pelosi were to step down, the No. 2 Democrat, Rep. Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, 73, would probably ascend to the top spot, opening lower-rung positions to the cadre of younger leaders with aspirations to advance.

Pelosi had pledged to remain for her full two-year term as the congresswoman from San Francisco if voters reelected her this fall, her 25th year in office, and they did. Now she must decide what to do if she stays.


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