Shuler Says He May Run Against Pelosi for Speaker

Posted October 28, 2010 at 12:25pm

A House Democrat whom Republicans are eyeing as a potential party switcher said he is willing to challenge Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her gavel if the Democrats manage to maintain control of the House.

“If there is no viable alternative [to Pelosi], I will be running for Speaker of the House,” the North Carolina Democrat said during a Wednesday night debate that aired on WWNC, a local radio station, according to a report in the Asheville Citizen-Times.

Shuler is in a tight race for a third term against Republican Jeff Miller.

Pressed by Miller — who has used Shuler’s previous votes for the California Democrat for Speaker as campaign fodder ­— Shuler insisted he would not vote for Pelosi if she were the only Speaker candidate.

“I don’t know how I can be any clearer,” Shuler said. “I can do as good a job as anybody in the U.S. Congress because I can actually bring people together.”

The former NFL quarterback is among a handful of moderate Democrats who in recent weeks have ruled out the possibility of voting again for Pelosi if Democrats defy expectations and retain control of the House. But Shuler, who first suggested publicly in August that he might mount a run for Speaker in the 112th Congress, is the only one to indicate he might put his own name forth as an alternative.

A Shuler aide was unaware of whether his comments were meant to indicate he would stage a protest vote or indicative that he would stage a serious campaign for Speaker. The aide also did not know whether Shuler had spoken to any other Members about a potential Speaker run.

Regardless, a GOP source described the comments as “very savvy.”

“It makes him look very proactive and like a leader,” the source said.

While Shuler is making noise about a potential leadership run, Republicans are also seriously eyeing the North Carolinian as a potential party switcher.

Shuler is among a small number of conservative Democrats whom House Republicans have on a target list, according to several GOP lobbyists.

As soon as the midterms are over, Republicans plan to target Shuler through private conversations if he wins re-election.

“That would only occur if he wins re-election, and there is still a chance Jeff Miller can win,” Republican strategist Ron Bonjean said. “There are a number of Democrats who might want to consider making the switch if they are lucky enough to make it back.”

The Shuler aide said switching parties is not something his boss is considering.