ABC News Exclusive: Nancy Pelosi Seriously Considers Staying as Democratic Leader

The current speaker considers remaining in Congress and leadership.

ByABC News
November 4, 2010, 6:36 PM

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 – publicly and privately – 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.