Dem House leadership: hot times ahead

I've been writing a fair amount recently about the alignment of forces in the House that look poised for conflict after the (we're supposing) Dem win next week.

The kerfuffle over the remarks of Ellen Tauscher a day or two back and other noises off suggesting that the Blue Dogs will be making their presence felt have added to the expectancy.

Today, we get the Post suggesting not only that it'll shortly be seconds out in the Hoyer/Murtha fight for Majority Whip, but that Rahmbo is supposedly contemplating trying to take down Caucus chairman Clyburn.

With stories like this, you're always looking for the on-the-record quotes. In the Post piece, it's mostly pushing and shoving from surrogates.

But there's one choice (but apparently not new) quote from Murtha who lets his slip show:

Murtha said recently that he is running because he believes that Hoyer has been disloyal to Pelosi, an accusation that Hoyer has denied. "The guy has been trying to undercut her ever since she was elected minority leader," Murtha said. "Damn right it's true."

The numbers will play a part in all of this.

As I tabulated yesterday, the total number of reps in the 109th who belong to Blue Dogs or the NDC or both comes to 69. The total House membership of the CBC is 40.

Yet, of the House committee ranking members (and presumptive chairmen), only two are among the 69: Collin Peterson at Agriculture and Jane Harman at Intelligence.

Whereas the CBC has Ways and Means, Judiciary and Homeland Security.

Moreover, as I've previously discussed (see tag), Pelosi is proposing to dump Harman in favor of Alcee Hastings, the former Federal judge who was impeached and convicted for bribery.

Now, I'm not clear how the makeup of the House Dem party is going to change from the 109th to the 110th. But I get the strong feeling that a serious and public power struggle will break out in the first few days after the election.

Pelosi, one hopes, is prepared for this: for instance, one construction on her bizarre plan for Hastings is that she raised it with the intention of trading it for agreement by the mods to accept Rangel, Conyers and Clyburn sliding over.

Again, Murtha may just be a horse's head on Hoyer's pillow, with love and kisses from il capo.

Rahmbo's position is touchier in that, like Harman, he's nowhere else to go (having said before that he would quit the DCCC chair after the election).

The other place in the hierarchy up for grabs - the post just about Caucus chairman - is Majority Whip. But the current deputy Dem whip is John Lewis - who, according to the pattern elsewhere in the leadership, I would suspect is counting on taking the Majority Whip role himself.

So, on the one hand we have (colorably) a phalanx of CBCers (Rangel, Conyers, Lewis, Clyburn, Hastings and Thompson) getting top quality jobs in the New Millennium that is the Dem 110th - and the 69 NDC/Blue Dogs getting a shedload of manure.

(That, I dare say, is how a lot of mods would color it.)

Now, we have recent history of how the CBC fights for its members' job in the cringemaking saga of Pelosi trying to winkle Mr Cold Hard Cash out of his Ways and Means berth.

Bottom line: if she kow-tows to the CBC with a poke-in-the-eye appointment like Hastings, it will hardly be surprising if the mods feel disposed to poke Nancy in the eye by voting with the GOP from time to time.

One or two of them might even get sufficiently pissed off to talk about jumping ship.

This game is brutal. I love it.

Tags: 2006 House Leadership Elections, Alcee Hastings, Bennie Thompson, Blue Dog Democrats, Blue Dogs, Charlie Rangel, Collin Peterson, Committee Chairmanships, Congressional Black Caucus, Democrat-Controlled House, Ellen Tauscher, House Democratic Caucus, House Intelligence Committee, James Clyburn, Jane Harman, John Conyers, John Lewis, John Murtha, NDC, New Democratic Coalition, Pelosi, race, rahm emanuel, Silvestre Reyes, Steny Hoyer, William Jefferson (all tags)



This is really, really stupid

These people speaking to the media about House Dem leadership are really playing into the GOP's attempt to brand the Dems as suffering from hubris. America loves an underdog. Dems are the underdog. Stories like this do away with that image.

by mrgavel 2006-10-31 07:02AM | 0 recs
No horse in this race.

   I don't care as long as Pelosi becomes speaker.  Although I'm impressed that Murtha seems to be advocating loyalty toward Pelosi.

by cilerder86 2006-10-31 12:13PM | 0 recs


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