I really did think she would leave, but the most effective leader in the Democratic Party may just hang around for a while longer.
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.
This doesn’t totally break precedent, Sam Rayburn stuck around after losing the Speaker’s gavel in 1947 and 1953, and he eventually got it back both times.
The only people who don’t want her back are some scattered Blue Dogs who don’t like the way she passes actual legislation and gets things done. Heath Shuler wants to run for Minority Leader against her, and Jim Matheson (D-UT) thinks she should step down. But the Blue Dogs are decimated after this cycle, and can’t really dictate the actions of the caucus.
The second interview Pelosi gave after the election was to Ryan Grim of the Huffington Post, which says quite a bit there. She said she has received a positive response from members who want her to stay on.
From a progressive standpoint, it’s best to have Pelosi still on board. She’s the most liberal of all the leadership, and the most effective. Practically the entire Democratic agenda was passed in the House in the last two years; the Senate was the roadblock. And nobody raises money like Pelosi, adding over $50 million for Democratic candidates this cycle. Anyone who thinks Heath Shuler will get votes from the caucus over that mountain of cash is dreaming.
Pelosi rightly noted that the lack of jobs cost her the Speaker’s gavel.
In her estimation, the jobless problem swamped their accomplishments. “We believe that there’s a big distinction between Democrats and Republicans, but nine and a half percent unemployment is just such an eclipsing phenomenon that no message really can come through unless it’s a message that says, ‘Here’s your job,’” she said. “From our standpoint, we have saved the country from eight and a half million jobs lost, from 14 and a half percent unemployment and the rest. But you don’t get any credit for what you prevented from happening.”
Pelosi also gave Grim a sense of her priorities in the lame duck session: tax cuts for the middle class (she said the President still does not want to extend the rates for those over $250,000, but I’ll believe that when I see it), the one-time $250 benefit for Social Security recipients, and bills on child nutrition and food safety. The Senate has already passed that child nutrition bill, but paid for it with cuts to the food stamp program. That’s what has derailed it in the House thus far, as 100 rank and file Democrats rejected the bill.
The netroots, led by Daily Kos, already has a petition up asking Pelosi to return.
UPDATE: Americans United has a Thank You Speaker Pelosi site up as well.