With the retirements of two of her closest allies in the House, Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was forced Thursday to assure the press that she was running for reelection in November. “I’m running. I’ve already started the paperwork process. My work is not finished,” Pelosi said in a statement.
The fact that Pelosi had to make such a statement is extraordinary. The question was sparked by the recent announcements that CA Reps. Henry Waxman and George Miller were retiring at the end of this Congress. The two have been very close allies of Pelosi and played very large roles in her leadership. VA Rep. Jim Moran, another close ally of Pelosi, has also announced his retirement.
All three would have been assured of chairing important committees if the Democrats were to take back the House in November. Their departure is a strong sign of many observers are increasingly saying; winning back the majority is very unlikely.
A number of people thought Pelosi might retire after the Democrats lost their House majority in 2010. In remaining, Pelosi may have felt that the Democrats had a shot at winning back the House in a Presidential election year. Republicans had a huge advantage in redistricting, though. The Democrats only picked up 8 seats.
With Obama’s low approval ratings, there is growing concern among Democrats that the Republicans have an increasing chance to win control of the Senate. Politico reported Wednesday that Democrat donors and strategists are considering directing resource away from House campaigns to defend vulnerable Democrat senators.
“There is no question that Democratic donors are shifting towards the Senate in 2014,” Joe Cotchett, a prominent donor and close friend of Pelosi told Politico.
If, as expected, House Democrats have another bad year at the polls, there could be a leadership challenge to Pelosi. Losing three of her close allies would leave her vulnerable to a challenge. Pelosi may not retire as leader of the Democrat caucus. The caucus, though, may retire from her.