House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has continued to raise funds at a frenetic pace for her party while questions and rumors swirl about her potential departure. If her moving of the Democratic leadership elections’ date signaled her intention to try to keep Rep. Steny Hoyer from the top job, it came well ahead of schedule.
Larson spokesman Ellis Brachman said the date of the elections is still up in the air. “We are looking at several options to see what will work best for the Caucus,” he said.
One complicating factor: the House Administration Committee is considering holding two new Member orientation sessions, one the week after the elections and the second the week after Thanksgiving. Generally speaking, a shorter campaign period is better for veterans, as challengers have less time to organize.
Whispers about Pelosi’s future are becoming louder, even as the California Democrat has kept up a frenetic fundraising schedule of behalf of the party.
Pelosi keeps her plans close to the chest, so much so that some aides have complained to peers about being unable to plan for whether they’ll have their current jobs a year from now.
But those who know her well doubt she would opt for a quick exit. Asked in July if Pelosi had indicated whether she was retiring, Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), said, “That’s her business, but I get no indication of that at all.”
Others who have worked for Pelosi or know her well cite her long-running rivalry with Hoyer as the reason she would stay on, preferring to prepare a successor over the next months or years before retiring.
“She’s worked so hard,” a Pelosi ally on K Street said. “I don’t think she would step out unless she felt she had someone as a replacement.”
Pelosi’s pitch to change the date of the leadership elections was a surprise, and if it signaled her intention to try to deny Hoyer’s elevation to the top job, it came well ahead of the timetable most had predicted.
Hoyer’s strong support in the Caucus was demonstrated in 2006. That year, after Democrats regained the House majority, Pelosi backed a bid by the late John Murtha (Pa.) to become Majority Leader. Hoyer trounced Murtha, and since then, Hoyer has worked to project his loyalty to Pelosi, presenting a united front with her on major issues.
“What Members say to me is they are pleased I have worked so closely with Nancy from the minute that the race between Murtha and myself was over to now,” Hoyer said in a recent interview.
Another factor is whether Van Hollen, a fellow Marylander and potential challenger, would be willing to take on Hoyer. Their close relationship would make that a difficult choice for Van Hollen, who previously served as assistant to the Speaker.