Hoyer Wins Majority Leader Post, Beating Murtha
Pelosi’s first setback with many more to follow to be sure.
By Josephine Hearn
In a stunning rebuke to incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Democrats selected Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) to be their majority leader Thursday morning in a vote of 149 to 86 even though Pelosi had thrown her weight behind Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.).
Hoyer drew on a coalition of soon-to-be committee chairmen, centrists and freshman members to overcome Pelosi’s clout with colleagues. Pelosi lobbied both freshmen and returning members this week in an effort to oust her old rival from the leadership. Hoyer and Pelosi waged a bitter battle for minority whip in 2001.
Murtha, a noted Iraq war critic and senior appropriator, suffered from a perceived weakness on ethics. At a recent meeting of the conservative Blue Dog Coalition, he called the Democrats’ ethics package “total crap,” a comment that reverberated across the cable news networks only a day before the election.
With the election now settled, Democrats will turn to the hefty task of taking control of the House and pushing their agenda through Congress, but they will carry the baggage of this rancorous campaign. Pelosi’s entry into the race effectively drove a wedge into the caucus, weakened their ability to remain unified and infuriated Hoyer’s supporters, which include many in the moderate New Democrat Coalition and conservative Blue Dog Coalition.
Earlier this morning the House Democratic caucus unanimously elected Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) as Speaker, Jim Clyburn (S.C.) as majority whip, Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) as caucus chairman and John Larson (Conn.) to caucus vice chairman.