Backed by a larger caucus, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will stay onin the post for another two years. She will make the announcement at this hour. Nobody will challenge her for the Democratic leadership position.
A delay in leadership elections and the rumor mill pointed to the possibility that Pelosi would step down from leadership or retire from Congress, after Democrats failed to capture the majority. In that event, the likely successor would have been Steny Hoyer, the moderate House Minority Whip. Progressives urged Pelosi to stay on in her post, and they got their wish. Adam Green of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee immediately gushed at the outcome:
Thank you, thank you, thank you Nancy Pelosi. The mandate of the election was to tax the rich and protect programs like Medicare and Social Security from benefit cuts. Steny Hoyer would likely not have respected that mandate, but given her track record, we have high hopes for Nancy Pelosi. Today is a good day for progressive power.
I agree that Democrats are likely to maneuver a bit differently with Pelosi in the leadership, although the minority doesn’t allow for too much maneuvering in a majoritarian institution, in any case.
Pelosi will have a 201-member caucus in the minority, if all uncalled races currently hold their positions. That’s before potential vacancies; Jesse Jackson Jr. may be headed to jail in a campaign finance scandal, and various Massachusetts Democrats may chase an open Senate seat in a special election, if John Kerry is tapped for a cabinet post. But the baseline number if all the races hold is 234 Republicans and 201 Democrats. That means that Democrats would need an additional 17 seats in the midterms to recapture the majority.
Democrats also got boosted by one member in the Senate today. Independent Angus King (I-ME) said he would join the Democratic caucus, saying that “affiliating with the majority makes sense.” That gives Democrats 55 seats in the Senate, versus 45 seats for the Republicans.