With no suspense but a lot of flattering hoopla, House Democrats on Thursday unanimously reelected Rep. Nancy Pelosi by acclamation as their Minority Leader. Wide speculation that the 72-year-old San Francisco lawmaker would not be seeking to remain leader already had been put to rest earlier this month, and Pelosi faced no challengers.
So gushing was some praise of Pelosi during the closed-door caucus elections that Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill.—seconding the nomination—at various points described Pelosi as her “personal hero” and “the most powerful woman in the world,” according to a senior Democratic aide who was there.
Schakowsky also was described as crediting Pelosi for being responsible for making possible every major legislative accomplishment for the Obama Administration.
Also as expected Thursday, the House Democratic Caucus reelected Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland and Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn of South Carolina as their No. 2 and No. 3 leaders. Rep. Xavier Becerra of California, the current Caucus vice chair, was elected to move up to the No. 4 slot as Caucus chairman, taking over from Rep. John Larson of Connecticut, who is term limited by party rules. Those three also faced no competition.
The only new face in caucus leadership is Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., elected to succeed Becerra as vice chair. Crowley, a former chairman of the centrist New Democrat Coalition, and who is also chairman of the Queens Democratic Committee, initially had two rivals, Reps. Jared Polis of Colorado and Barbara Lee of California, but both withdrew.
In addition, a sixth leaders’ spot that is out of the policy sphere – that of Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair – will remain in the hands of Rep. Steve Israel, also of New York. Also on Thursday, the Democratic Caucus approved Pelosi’s nominations Rep. Louise Slaughter of New York to remain as the ranking member on the House Rules Committee, and Rep. Robert Brady of Pennsylvania to be ranking member of the House Committee on Administration.
In reelecting Pelosi, House Democrats also nominated the only woman ever to hold the Speaker’s gavel to be their candidate for speaker again when the new Congress convenes in January. Of course, Pelosi’s chances are slim, given that Republicans will still control the chamber and are bent on reelecting the current speaker, John Boehner, R-Ohio.
Rep. Mike Thompson, a fellow Californian, nominated Pelosi. Other seconding speeches were given by Rep.-elect Joyce Beatty of Ohio, and Rep. Nydia Velazquez of New York.
Following her re-election, the senior Democratic aide said Pelosi spoke. She was described as recalling her telephone call with President Obama on election night, and that Obama said, “Nancy, with my re-election, we have protected all of the accomplishments we achieved together.” Pelosi said he was speaking specifically about health care reform, Wall Street reform and higher education reform.
Pelosi said Obama then stated his desire to now work on political reform.