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Contemplating a Post-Pelosi House

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
There’s some speculation that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi might retire after the November elections, especially if the Democratic Party is in the minority again.

The Pelosi-Hoyer relationship stretches back to their days working for the late Sen. Daniel Brewster (D-Md.) in the 1960s.

Six years ago, when Democrats won the House, Pelosi backed the late Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) over Hoyer for Majority Leader. In 2001, they campaigned against each other for Whip.

As Democratic lawmakers brace for the possibility of spending another two years in the minority, they say Pelosi’s fundraising prowess is of vital importance.

“There’s no one who works harder than Nancy Pelosi, and there’s no one who raises more money than she does,” said retiring Rep. Heath Shuler (N.C.), who challenged Pelosi for Minority Leader in 2010, garnering 43 votes.

“In light of the super PACs, she’s the finger in the dyke, financially. She raises mega dollars and no one else does,” another Democratic lawmaker said.

Chatter about Pelosi’s possible retirement was energized in December when her daughter Alexandra Pelosi told reporter Jeffrey Scott Shapiro that her mother wanted to leave Congress.

“She would retire right now, if the donors she has didn’t want her to stay so badly,” Alexandra Pelosi said. “She has very few days left. She’s 71, she wants to have a life, she’s done.”

Pelosi’s office fought furiously to tamp down the report, and Alexandra Pelosi told reporters she was “merely projecting my own personal opinions.”

But neither denied she had made the remarks, and the interview shocked Congressional Democrats, some of whom said they consider it a critical piece of evidence of Pelosi’s thinking.

Most surprising, perhaps, was the outlet that reported the news: a website edited by the late Andrew Breitbart, a conservative pundit not known for his access to top Democrats.

Shapiro said he called Alexandra Pelosi on an unrelated matter and she “just threw it out there” as one of many topics broached, indicating that she knew about the Minority Leader’s intentions from their many conversations as mother and daughter.

Yet Pelosi has not slowed down a bit, even if she does want to leave. The famously hardworking lawmaker has kept up a punishing travel schedule.

This cycle, she has raised $56.5 million at 556 events in 43 cities and two U.S. territories, according to a document produced by her office.

The numbers are even more impressive because they only include money directly raised by Pelosi, not through direct mail, email and telemarketing using her likeness.

When asked if Pelosi had indicated to him whether she was retiring, Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), a close Pelosi confidant, said, “That’s her business, but I get no indication of that at all.”

And one argument that could be used to push Pelosi toward the exit, that the time has come for the next generation of leaders, is inert. Hoyer and Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn (S.C.) are approximately the same age as she is. Pelosi is 72, Hoyer is 73, and Clyburn is 72.

Pelosi herself recently vowed that Democrats would take back the House.

“You just wait and see on Election Day,” she said when asked about predictions by political handicappers that Democrats are unlikely to win control of the House. “Let me just whisper this to you. You won’t share it with anyone. Let them think that. Let them think that.”

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