|Stephen Schneck, chair and associate professor, politics, and director of the Life Cycle Institute, was quoted in a Bloomberg News story about U.S. House of Representitves Democratic Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) support for Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) as the new majority leader of the House. See his comments in the story below.|
From: Bloomberg News Date: Nov. 13, 2006 Authors: Jay Newton-Small and Laura LitvanNov. 13 (Bloomberg) -- House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said she supports Representative John Murtha for the post of majority leader, bypassing the current No. 2, Steny Hoyer."For all you have done for Democrats in the past and especially this last year, I am pleased to support your candidacy for majority leader for the 110th Congress,'' Pelosi wrote in a letter to Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat, released yesterday.
Murtha, 73, last year called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, a move that Pelosi in her letter said "changed the national debate'' and made Iraq a central issue in the Nov. 7 midterm elections. He is close to Pelosi, 66, a California Democrat who is in line to become speaker when her party takes control of the House in January.
Pelosi's move poses potential risks for Pelosi if Democrats fail to align with her, said Tom Mann, a congressional scholar at the Brookings Institution, a public policy research organization in Washington.
"The betting has been that Hoyer is way ahead and that Pelosi would stay out of it,'' Mann said.
House Democrats plan to elect their leaders for the new Congress on Nov. 16.
"If it's widely assumed she's trying to alter the outcome, then it hurts her,'' Mann said. "If the word inside is that she's just showing loyalty but is fully prepared to accept the decision of the Democratic caucus, then it will pass quickly.''
Hoyer, currently the No. 2 House Democrat, said he had known for some time of Pelosi's choice to support Murtha. "I respect her decision as the two are very close,'' Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, said in a statement.
"I am grateful for the support I have from my colleagues, and have the majority of the caucus supporting me,'' said Hoyer, 67. "I look forward to working with Speaker Pelosi as majority leader.''
Representative Dennis Cardoza, a California Democrat who supports Hoyer, said Pelosi's endorsement will be seen as evidence of her loyalty to Murtha, not an effort to interject her views into the race. Members knew that Pelosi would probably personally support Murtha when they gave commitments to Hoyer in recent months, he said.
"I don't think it's going to have an impact on people's decisions,'' Cardoza said in an interview. "She's being loyal, and members have personal relationships.''
Cardoza said that Hoyer's travels to 39 House districts in the month leading up to the Nov. 7 elections boosted his support. Hoyer has the backing of 28 incoming House members, he said.
Competition With Pelosi
Hoyer rose in 2002 to become Democratic whip when Pelosi moved up to the leader's post. The previous year, Hoyer lost a contest to Pelosi for the whip's job. The whip job, which entails vote counting and unifying the caucus on legislation, is the No. 2 minority slot and the No. 3 majority post behind speaker and majority leader.
Murtha, in a statement today, welcomed Pelosi's backing.
"I am deeply gratified to receive the support of Speaker Pelosi, a tireless advocate for change and a true leader for our party and our country,'' Murtha said. "Last Tuesday, the American people spoke and the message could not be clearer: We need a new direction.''
Murtha is an "anti-abortion, Catholic, and pro-hunting'' Democrat, said Stephen Schneck, the chairman of the politics department at Catholic University in Washington.
"This is the direction in the Democratic Party that did so well in fall elections,'' Schneck said.