Amid a swirl of speculation and rumor, Rep. Nancy Pelosi as of Thursday afternoon remained silent on her future, even to House colleagues, on the heels of elections that determined Democrats will remain in the House minority for a second consecutive session.
It is widely anticipated - though not known for sure -- the San Francisco Democrat will announce her plans before lawmakers' return to Washington next week for the start of the lame duck session. And many expect Pelosi, 72, to announce before this weekend.
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Democrats have scheduled their first caucus-wide meeting for next Wednesday, and won't vote in internal leadership elections until the week after Thanksgiving.
Pelosi - the only woman ever to hold the speaker's gavel - has said only that she would decide on her future after the election. But to quell potential retirement talk in recent months, her office has repeatedly pointed to a January TV interview in which she said she would serve out her full term as a House member if reelected.
However, Pelosi has not said, specifically, whether she would seek to remain in the top Democratic leadership if her party failed to take back control of the chamber it lost in 2010. Several Democrats interviewed in recent weeks say they don't see her simply sticking around to be a rank-and-file member, or some type of "leader emeritus."
They also said they see no one with the political juice to take her on if she did decide to stay in the leader's job again.
Still, there is some disappointment in seats picked up in the election, and some of that is spilling into blame on Pelosi. Redistricting surely hamstrung the effort to close the 25-seat gap from the beginning. But one senior member said House Democrats just seemed to have no clear message for voters, and others say now might be the time for a generational change at the top of the party.