Nancy Pelosi Announces Run for Democratic Leader

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., waits to speak to supporters at an election night party in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010.
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Updated 5:37 p.m. Eastern Time

Despite pressure from some in her caucus to relinquish her leadership role in the wake of Tuesday's midterm elections, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced that she plans to run for minority leader in the new Congress.

"Many of our colleagues have called with their recommendations on how to continue our fight for the middle class, and have encouraged me to run for House Democratic Leader," Pelosi said in a letter to fellow House Democrats. "Based on those discussions, and driven by the urgency of protecting health care reform, Wall Street reform, and Social Security and Medicare, I have decided to run."

Pelosi has faced intense pressurefrom the moderate "Blue Dog" coalition of Democrats who say their numbers decimated in an election that threw control of the House to the Republican Party. Reps. Dan Boren, Heath Shuler and Jim Matheson are among the Blue Dogs who have called for Pelosi to step aside; Shuler is vowing to challenge her if another strong challenger doesn't come forward.

In her letter, Pelosi said Democrats' work "is far from finished."

"As a result of Tuesday's election, the role of Democrats in the 112th Congress will change, but our commitment to serving the American people will not," she said. "We have no intention of allowing our great achievements to be rolled back."

She added on Twitter: "Driven by the urgency of creating jobs & protecting #hcr, #wsr, Social Security & Medicare, I am running for Dem Leader."

Pelosi, who is 70, has been in contactwith most members of her caucus to feel out how they felt about her trying to remain as Democrats' leader in the House. While she is well-liked by liberal Democrats, Pelosi is unpopular in many areas of the country for her high-profile push on issues like cap-and-trade, and many current Blue Dogs blame her agenda for their losses on Tuesday.

Those losses could help Pelosi in a run for minority leader, however, since many of the Blue Dogs who would have rallied around Shuler or a similar candidate will be absent from the new Congress. 

For the remaining Blue Dogs, it makes political sense to oppose a Pelosi run even if she wins, since separating themselves from her can to some extent blunt opponents' efforts to tie them to her in their reelection bids.

The liberal group MoveOn.org sent a letter to its members today saying Pelosi's stepping down "would be a terrible loss for progressives, and for the country."

A Pelosi aide tells CBS News that Pelosi is the Democrat most capable of raising money to help candidates win in 2012 and said that most members have urged her to run.

The leadership elections will be the week of November 15th when Congress comes back for the lame duck session. Pelosi is the highest-ranking female politician in U.S. history.

Asked for a statement, White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton said the White House "does not comment or get involved in leadership elections."

"But as the President has said before, he appreciates the work of the Speaker and the entire House Democratic leadership team who have been great partners in moving the country forward," Burton said in a statement. "He looks forward to working with them in the years to come."

There is also a fight brewing for the Democrats' no. 2 spot in the House in the new Congress: Democratic Rep. James Clyburn, the highest-ranking African-American in the House, says he will run to become whip, which means a potential standoff with current House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.

"I am seeking your support and vote for Democratic Whip," he said in a letter to colleagues. "Throughout the course of my tenure, I have demonstrated the ability and willingness to give selfless service to our Caucus. My record of leadership in our Caucus has prepared me well for the challenges ahead. I am confident we can rebuild the coalition that carried Democrats and President Obama into office in 2008 and that it will lead us on the road back to the majority in 2012."

Hoyer said in a statement today that he is "exploring" a bid.

"Speaker Pelosi has announced that she will be running for Democratic Leader in the next Congress," he said. "In the days since the election, I have received an outpouring of support from Democratic colleagues who have told me that I should remain in our party's leadership, so that our Caucus can hit the ground running with a strong, tested leadership team. Over the next several days, I will continue to speak to my colleagues about serving our Caucus as Democratic Whip, and I will announce a decision after I have consulted with them."

The more liberal wing of the caucus would likely support Clyburn while the more moderate members would support Hoyer should the two fight it out for the position.


Brian Montopoli is a political reporter for CBSNews.com. You can read more of his posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.

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