The AFL-CIO has endorsed Nancy Pelosi’s bid to remain as leader of the House Democratic caucus, citing her work on getting key legislation passed for working families. Between the labor endorsement and the attention being focused elsewhere on the Minority Whip battle, I’d say Pelosi’s position is secure.
As to how to resolve that other matter, I think Jesse Jackson Jr. has a pretty sharp idea, though I think he’s only making it to make a point. The common approach is to look to House “leaders” as how they will play broadly in the country, whether they have the ability to excite the mass middle of the public. Yet we know that the identity of the number 2 Democrat in the leadership will have no bearing whatsoever on the fate of the House in 2012 and beyond. The leadership position is a legislative one, particularly the position of the Minority Whip, whose job mainly entails keeping the caucus unified on important votes. So, given that Clyburn and Hoyer are arguing that their skills in getting Democrats elected are the reason they should get a leadership slot, why don’t they put those skills to actual use by running the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee?
“Maybe Mr. Hoyer and his moderate-to-conservative coalition and Mr. Clyburn with his progressive coalition should be co-chairs of the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] and let someone else handle the task of convincing members of the caucus to ‘vote no’ on the Republican agenda that most of us are already against,” Jackson said in a statement. “Mr. Hoyer and Mr. Clyburn both tout their experience in fundraising and supporting Democratic candidates — we need their joint experience at the DCCC.”
Jackson’s really calling for new leadership – perhaps for himself – to do the hard work of legislating inside the caucus. He’s saying that these fights about electoral positioning have a role in the committee that elects Democrats, not the Minority Whip’s office. He happens to be right, but I don’t expect that to really change anything.
In addition, if the future of the Democratic caucus really does depend on what kind of Democrat the DCCC will support in the future, it seems to me a progressive voice is best suited in that capacity. But it seems like Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Joe Crowley already have that seat locked up.