Nancy Pelosi returns as Minority Leader, pledges leadership change

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) swept aside a challenge to her party leadership post Wednesday, winning reelection to head the lower chamber’s Democratic Caucus.

Ms. Pelosi won 134—63, her narrowest margin of victory since first becoming Democratic Minority Leader in 2002.

Wednesday’s elections also witnessed Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) returned to his Democratic whip post, and Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) continuing his role as assistant leader.

Reelected in the wake of disappointing results on Nov. 8 in which many Democrats were predicted to earn significant congressional seat gains, including the White House, Pelosi defeated the insurgent challenge offered by Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan.

“I have a special spring in my step today because this opportunity is a special one, to lead the House Democrats, bring everyone together as we go forward.” Pelosi told reporters after her reelection.

Dismissing the notion her reelection was marred by widespread disunity and frustration over her leadership, Pelosi stressed her margin of victory and deemphasized the significance of 63 votes in opposition as defectors.

“They weren’t defections, I had two-thirds of the vote, two-thirds, two-thirds,” she averred. 

Responding after his loss, Ryan, a seven-term incumbent whose district includes Youngstown, told reporters: “Somebody had to do something.  Our prospects have improved just because of this conversation.”

Faith in Pelosi has gradually faded since she assumed her leadership role in 2002.  In the 2010 mid-term elections, after holding the Speaker’s gavel for two terms, Democrats were crushed at the polls and hemorrhaged 63 seats to the GOP.  Reelected to a third term as Speaker in 2010, Pelosi sustained the party and has overseen some gains, but none substantial.

Faced with a restless Caucus, Pelosi did agree to make minor modifications in the Democratic leadership apparatus under her rule.

According to a letter sent to Caucus members Wednesday, Pelosi announced her intent to create several new posts within party committees.  Five posts, “vice chairs” and “vice ranking members”, will be added to current committees. Pelosi has also hinted the new positions will grant more leverage to committee members, particularly those with less seniority.

A role for House Democratic leadership challenger Tim Ryan has yet to be announced.

 

[AP] [Politico] [Photo courtesy rickwells.us]