Ending months of speculation, Rep. Nancy Pelosi said on Wednesday that she wants to be reelected as House Democratic leader when lawmakers return to Washington after Thanksgiving break.
Pelosi, 72, finally told her Democratic colleagues her plans during a closed-caucus meeting on Wednesday morning—with her husband, Paul Pelosi, on hand. The San Francisco Democrat--only woman ever chosen House speaker--told the packed meeting, “We may not have the gavel, but as I can see in this room we have the unity.”
Flanked less than an hour later by the Democratic women of the House, Pelosi said during a news conference that she would seek another term as leader.
“We have work to do,” she said. "I have made a decision to submit my name to my colleagues” to remain as leader.” Pelosi added, “Being actively involved in politics at this level is really insatiable. There aren’t enough hours in the day for me. There is so much more I want to do.”
Shortly after, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland formally declared his interest in remaining the House’s No. 2 Democrat. Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn of South Carolina also is running for his job again.
Party sources said that Pelosi—who just celebrated her 25th year in Congress—did not say how long she hopes to remain as leader or if she will remain in the post for the entire 113th Congress.
But in continuing, at least for a while, as House Democratic leader, Pelosi will continue to play a top role in negotiations with Senate Democrats, Republicans, and President Obama in addressing the looming “fiscal cliff.” She insists that Social Security and Medicare are protected and that wealthy Americans be asked to pay their “fair share.”
Pelosi’s decision to stay came 10 years to the day that she was first elected to lead House Democrats. Over the years since then, she has led her party as it took the House majority in the 2006 elections, and as it four years later lost control of the chamber.
The decision comes after last week’s disappointing showing by House Democrats, who had hoped to gain 25 seats but instead will see a net pickup of just seven or eight. That, on the heels of losing the House majority and 63 seats in 2010, had sent rumors swirling that Pelosi might call it quits.
There was even talk from some younger members that they hoped Pelosi would do so.
Scenarios ranged from the possibility of Hoyer, 73, who has long worked in Pelosi’s shadow—and not without some tension— would succeed her to discussions that a new generation of Democratic leaders should emerge.
Pelosi entered the caucus meeting to applause and cheers; however, not everyone was overly enthusiastic, according to sources in the room.
“I think it’s great,” said Maryland’s Chris Van Hollen—the Budget Committee’s top Democrat and a Pelosi favorite who has been mentioned as a potential successor.
Later, at the news conference, a reporter asked Pelosi if by staying in leadership she was preventing younger leaders from taking command of House Democrats. Pelosi said, "Next! You always ask that question except to Mitch McConnell."
Pelosi continued, "Let's for a moment treat this as a legitimate question, though it's quite offensive. ... Everything I have done in my decade of leadership is to elect younger and newer people to Congress." She finished, "The answer is no."
Republicans were applauding or at least feigning delight.
Republicans also were applauding or at least feigning delight.
“There is no better person to preside over the most liberal House Democratic Caucus in history than the woman who is solely responsible for relegating it to a prolonged minority status,” said National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Paul Lindsay.
The Congressional Leadership Fund’s Don Conston piled on: “Nancy Pelosi’s abrasive and stunningly tone-deaf tenure as speaker got her party fired in 2010 and led to the two largest Republican House majorities since the 1930s.”
Shane Goldmacher contributed to this article.