Tags: | Democrats | leadership | Chris Van Hollen | Steny Hoyer

Frustrated House Democrats Want New Leadership

By    |   Wednesday, 20 May 2015 05:55 PM

Democrats dispirited by their massive loss in November's congressional elections met secretly earlier this year to find a new House leader, only to have their hopes dashed when their favored candidate decided to run for the Senate, the New York Times Magazine  reported Wednesday.

The closed-door meetings to replace House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi included seven Democrats, described as moderates and liberals, who endorsed Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland to replace her.

Many Democrats have grown disillusioned with Pelosi, the former House speaker whose party lost control of that chamber in 2012 and suffered further setbacks two years later, when Republicans increased their majority to the largest number of members since before the Great Depression.

The back-to-back losses cast a cloud over many Democrats who dreaded a foreseeable future out of power in the House minority.

"We just keep losing," Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut told the Times. "You'd have to be insane not to conduct some soul-searching. And that soul-searching, when you keep losing, can easily — unfortunately — lead to recriminations and backbiting."

Seven House Democrats — Reps. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, Lloyd Doggett of Texas, Donna Edwards of Maryland, Steve Israel of New York, Dan Kildee of Michigan, Beto O'Rourke of Texas and Paul Tonko of New York — appealed to Van Hollen to seek the party leadership.

The group included liberals like DeLauro and Edwards, who are close to Pelosi but recognized that she had lost the drive that led her to win the powerful speakership after the 2006 election that swept the Democrats into control of the House.

"There's a great deal of frustration," Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio, a former chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, told the Times. "Most members don't want to come to caucus or whip meetings. I think some of them see the House as a quagmire, and they want to find a way out."

The restive Democrats began looking at Van Hollen, 56, as a relatively youthful leader compared to Pelosi and her top deputies, all in their 70s.

Unfortunately for the rebels, Pelosi failed to give Van Hollen any indication that she would step down or even endorse him if she did decide to give up the leadership.

Suddenly, on March 2, Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski announced her retirement after 27 years, and Van Hollen decided to run for the upper chamber, seeing no sign of advancement in the House.

An aide to Van Hollen dismissed any connection between the congressman's decision to run for the Senate and Pelosi's lingering grasp on the leadership.

"Congressman Van Hollen's decision to run for the Senate had nothing to do with Leader Pelosi's continued service to the House Democratic Caucus," the aide told The Hill.

Pelosi, a Baltimore native, is also locked in a dispute with a fellow Marylander, Rep. Steny Hoyer, who has designs on the leadership position.

"Pelosi had sent no signals as to when she might give up her top post. What she had made tacitly clear was that she had no intentions of ceding it to Hoyer, who like Pelosi was raised in Maryland and about whom Pelosi nurtured some ancient but intractable grudge," the Times reported.

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Democrats dispirited by their massive loss in November's congressional elections met secretly earlier this year to find a new House leader, only to have their hopes dashed when their favored candidate decided to run for the Senate, the New York Times Magazine reported Wednesday.
Democrats, leadership, Chris Van Hollen, Steny Hoyer
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2015-55-20
Wednesday, 20 May 2015 05:55 PM
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