Alex Brandon/AP Photo
Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Election Night.
Alex Brandon/AP Photo
In an audacious move that is sending shockwaves through the Democratic Party in Washington and beyond, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has ended the suspense with a tweet that she intends to stay in the House and run for minority leader.
After Republicans effectively portrayed her in the midterm elections as the poster child of alleged Democratic and liberal overreach, leading to the GOP's historic victory Tuesday night in which they attained the House majority, Pelosi isn't going away quietly.
Driven by the urgency of creating jobs & protecting #hcr, #wsr, Social Security & Medicare, I am running for Dem Leader.
HCR and WSR refer to the health care and Wall Street reforms.
Many Democrats had hoped that Pelosi, age 70, would allow a new leader to come forward. Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, also age 70 and now the majority leader, wasn't exactly a new face.
But he was considered her natural successor as leader of House Democrats though he had let it be known that if Pelosi wanted to keep the top post, he would step aside.
It's safe to say there will be much gnashing of teeth among many Democrats who believe Pelosi will offer the new Republican majority a handy pinata.
She does have her supporters, however. She is very popular among liberals who see her as a bulwark against the tendency towards moderation of Democrats from less safely Democratic districts like the San Francisco one she represents. It just returned her to Washington with 80 percent of the vote.
Also, Pelosi is known as a tough politician who doesn't shrink from a fight. So she is essentially issuing her own version of "bring it on" to the new Republican majority. And there's little doubt they will.
What is the instant analysis for what this means for President Obama? It could actually benefit him in that it could give him political foils on the left (Pelosi) and the right (House Republicans) which would allow him to make a centrist appeal to the political independents he'll need to regain if he hopes to win re-election.
But Pelosi was such a ready lightning rod in the recent mid-term elections, that she made Republican messaging simple. "Fire Pelosi" was pretty much all they had to say.
If her presence proves a distraction to Obama's attempts to get his message across as he runs for re-election, she could wind up being a liability for him.
Added at 2:28 pm ET — MoveOn.org e-mailed members Friday morning asking them to contact Pelosi's office to urge her to run. Here's an excerpt:
“Speaker Nancy Pelosi is one of the strongest, most progressive leaders in Washington. Her determination brought health care reform back to life last winter, when the Senate and the White House were ready to scale back. She fought harder than anyone for bigger, better job creation bills. And right now, she is the strongest voice in leadership for ending Bush's millionaire tax bailout. But after Tuesday's elections, some corporate Democrats are taking the wrong lesson—saying that Democrats should be less progressive and more like the Republicans. And they're pushing Speaker Pelosi to step down. This would be a terrible loss for progressives, and for the country. ”
A spokeswoman for MoveOn.org said that now that Pelosi has decided to run for minority leader in the new Congress, the organization will be working to assure her of the support she needs from other Democratic lawmakers to keep the top post in their party's conference.