There is a seething anger within the House Democratic Caucus toward Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on the heels of Tuesday's election drubbing, and it will be very difficult for her to remain at the helm as minority leader, a senior House Democrat told National Journal today.
But the liberal Democrat, a Pelosi supporter and admirer who did not want to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue, said there has been little communication so far among Democrats about any specific successors to Pelosi.
The veteran lawmaker – who is himself not interested in a leadership job – said it is obvious to him that Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., wants to become the next minority leader, but predicted that others would emerge.
The lawmaker said those internal talks are stymied because Pelosi continues to provide no signal about what she plans to do. Ultimately, he said, Pelosi may not be given a choice.
The analysis came just as there was a rising chorus of doubt about Pelosi's future as leader: “I just don’t foresee her running..." Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C., told National Journal. "When’s the last time the speaker has lost that overwhelmingly and stayed in the leadership? I just don’t see it happening. I’ve been in that same situation, I was benched after losing games, but the most important thing is you’re doing what is best for your team.”
A Pelosi aide said she would have no announcement on her plans today. That aide would not speculate whether her timetable for letting fellow Democrats and the public know of her plans might come as early as Friday.
Some of the anger was evident as well with other calls for Pelosi's resignation. Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, one of the co-chairs of the Blue Dog Coalition, said today that he did not believe that Pelosi would try to remain as minority leader in the new Congress. In an interview with POLITICO, Matheson said he did not think Pelosi was in a position to lead the House Democratic Caucus.
When the Caucus meets behind closed doors for the first time after the election later this month, the senior lawmaker said he expects that pent-up anger to explode, not just at Pelosi but at Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., as well.
No exact date has been set for when that meeting will occur, but it is expected to be during the week of November 15.
The lawmaker emphasized he has not talked directly to Pelosi, who declined to spell out her plans on Wednesday during a nationally televised interview.
There also has been no word from Hoyer, who, like others in the Caucus, has been waiting to hear from Pelosi.
Hoyer has successfully managed — in the eyes of many — to create some space between himself and Pelosi on a number of issues, enough so that it could probably benefit him in a leadership race right now.
But Hoyer also built his base of support around the Blue Dog Coalition of moderates, and many of the members who formed that base were defeated Tuesday.
Shuler, who is a survivor of the Blue Dog bloodbath, and once thought about challenging Pelosi, said he did not want to get into who might succeed her, but says he will not challenge Pelosi.
If there are divisions, the more liberal Progressive Coalition is likely to fare much better since most of its members survived on Tuesday; its nearly 80 members will have even greater influence within the new Democratic minority.
The senior lawmaker emphasized that he has not had any communication or entreaties from others who are reportedly interested in leadership jobs, or moving up, including Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., or Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., the current vice chair of the Caucus.
He said he is a friend and supporter of current House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson, D-Conn., but does not see him moving up.
As for Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., chairman of the Education and Labor Committee and a Pelosi confidante, the senior lawmaker says it’s unlikely he might make a move to become minority leader because Miller is more comfortable behind the scenes devising strategy.
Cameron Joseph contributed