Speaker Nancy Pelosi just announced that she’s running for House Minority Leader.
Pelosi broke the news on Twitter, “Driven by the urgency of creating jobs & protecting #hcr, #wsr, Social Security & Medicare, I am running for Dem Leader.”
(#hcr stands for health care reform, #wsr stands for Wall Street reform.)
You can read her letter to colleagues announcing her intention here.
For the last three days, gaming out whether Pelosi would make this call has become a favorite parlor game in Washington.
Starting yesterday, sources close to her floated the possibility of a run as a trial balloon, and she herself acknowledged that she was weighing the possibility. Just this morning, numerous Democratic aides gamed out what would factor into her decision.
The calls from the right flank of her party — including from Reps. Dan Boren (OK) and Jason Altmire (PA) — for her to step down were perfectly expected, but not loud enough to suggest real danger. Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC) even threatened to run against her. But aides dismissed this out of hand, for clear obvious reasons.
For one, Shuler’s served two terms, and has a very minor constituency. For another, he says he’ll run if no alternative emerges, but one alternative is sitting in plain sight: Steny Hoyer, who already has the endorsement of prominent Blue Dog Rep. John Yarmuth (KY).
Hoyer has stayed mum, awaiting this decision. But in the past he’s suggested he would not take her on.
Pelosi is actually mathematically better situated to become Minority Leader than she would have been to become Speaker if the Dems had maintained control of the House. The Speaker is elected by the full House — and with a slim majority, and skeptics on the party’s right flank, she might have lost that vote, or been forced to pull out. The Minority Leader is selected by the Democratic caucus, where she has plenty of support among progressives, and where many of her detractors, well, just lost.
Importantly, as one aide said, as always with Pelosi, she doesn’t run if she can’t win.
On election night, DNC chair Tim Kaine threw his support to her. “If she wants to she definitely should. She has done a very good job of accomplishing things that i think are going to be very well regarded in history in terms of Speakers who been able to get things done.”