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Shuler Ready to Challenge Pelosi in Contest He Can’t Win

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Rep. Heath Shuler conceded Sunday that he cannot beat Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a contest for the Minority Leader spot in the 112th Congress, but the North Carolina Democrat said he would challenge her anyway.

“It’s unacceptable for our party, to move our party forward,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union” of the California lawmaker’s intention to pursue the top House Democratic leadership position. “We’re going to have to go in more of a moderate direction.”

Shuler, who is a member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition, said he still hopes that Pelosi will decide to step aside after Democrats return to Washington on Monday for a lame-duck session. But “if it comes down to this coming week and she doesn’t step aside, then I’ll challenge her,” Shuler said. Democrats are scheduled to hold their leadership elections Wednesday.

Shuler said Pelosi hurts the party’s ability to recruit candidates in moderate districts and will hamper defeated Democrats who will seek to win back their seats in the 2012 elections and regain the majority.

But he admitted he could not win. “Let’s be realistic about it. ... The moderates lost, there’s very few numbers of us left. ... I don’t have the numbers to be able to win,” he said.

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