ABC News Exclusive: Nancy Pelosi Seriously Considers Staying as Democratic Leader
In the Wake of Tuesday's Shellacking, the Current Speaker May Remain in Congress and in Leadership
By JONATHAN KARL
November 4, 2010
In the wake of Tuesday's shellacking, outgoing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, has been widely expected to step down as the Democratic leader and leave Congress.
Not so fast.
High-level Democratic sources in the House tell ABC News Pelosi is seriously considering staying in Congress and running for the position of minority leader.
Pelosi is methodically calling every Democratic House member who won on Tuesday, as well as many who lost, sources tell ABC News. In the process, she is weighing her options and gauging her support.
Some of Pelosi's closest allies are encouraging her to stay and to lead the Democratic effort to win back their majority. Those encouraging her are arguing, in part, that she can unify the progressives in the caucus, and more importantly, that nobody in the House can raise money for the next campaign better than Pelosi.
Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC), a member of the conservative Democratic Blue Dog coalition, is urging Pelosi not to run and threatening to challenge her if she does. Another member of the Blue Dog coalition, Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT), told Politico that Pelosi should not stay on.
"We just got whupped," he said.
But the Blue Dog coalition was decimated on Tuesday; more than half of its members, 29, lost. Only 28 remain. For the most part, the Democrats who survived Tuesday are the more liberal members, including Pelosi's strongest supporters.
A more serious threat to Pelosi would come from Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), currently the number two Democrat in the House. But Hoyer has previously assured Pelosi â€“ publicly and privately â€“ that he will not run against her. Pelosi and Hoyer had a one-on-one meeting late yesterday that lasted more than 90 minutes. Neither of them will say what was discussed.
Pelosi told ABC's Diane Sawyer in an interview Wednesday that she would let the Democratic caucus decide who would represent them in the House.
"In our caucus, we always do things by consensus. And when we have that consensus, we'll have some announcement to make," Pelosi said.
"I'll have a conversation with my caucus, I'll have a conversation with my family and â€“ pray over it, and decide how â€“ to go forward. But today isn't that day. Today is the day to congratulate John Boehner and the Republicans, to speak and listen to my colleagues who are not coming back. To again, respect the wishes of the American people."
Pelosi added, "It's never been about me. It's about how our caucus goes forward to fight, continue our fight for the middle class."
Today, in an interview with The Huffington Post, Pelosi said she remains on the fence about her future.
"I've gotten a positive response, but I haven't gone to a place where I've made a decision about that," she said. "Only today have I even looked at messages or anything that relate to me from ... members, friends, progressives ... And of course the ones you will hear from are the ones who want you to run. ... But I'll be very honest with you, it hasn't been something I've -- maybe tonight when I get home and after everybody goes to sleep and start reading the memos and calling people if it's not too late -- or at least I can call the West Coast, then I'll have more of an appraisal of it. But that's a subject for what comes next."