Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 9, 2006

MURTHA V HOYER?....Obviously, the midterm elections are still five months away, but since there's at least a real possibility that Democrats will take back the House, it's only natural for there to be some behind-the-scenes jockeying for leadership roles -- just in case.

Last week, there were some rumors that DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel could make a run for Speaker, or if the party fell short of the majority, Minority Leader, but Emanuel dismissed the talk and the caucus continues to support Nancy Pelosi. But what about the #2 job? Subscription-only Roll Call reports a surprising development this afternoon.

In a move that figures to throw the Democratic Caucus into a contentious and volatile leadership battle just as the mid-term election season is heating up, Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) has announced his plans to run for Majority Leader if the Democrats reclaim the House this fall.

"Our goal is to win the House back and if there's an open seat, I'm the candidate," the 73-year-old Pennsylvanian said in a statement.

Minority Whip Steny Hoyer's (D-Md.) office confirmed to TNR's Michael Crowley that Hoyer, whom everyone has assumed would move up if the midterms went the party's way, would also run for Majority Leader. A senior Democratic aide also told Crowley that Murtha's announcement could become a "huge diversion" and that the party shouldn't get "distracted with a leadership race" right now.

I realize that if Murtha is going to mount a serious challenge, he'll need to start lining up support early on, but it'd be a shame if House Democrats spent the next several months squabbling over leadership posts that might not even be available if they don't focus on reclaiming the majority.

Crowley concluded, "This could get ugly." I think that's a safe bet.

Steve Benen 4:28 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (48)

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Comments

The Dems continue to remind me why I'm registered Green.

Posted by: ecoboz on June 9, 2006 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

The Dems continue to remind me why I'm registered Green.

So you'll never have to worry about a leadership position?

Posted by: ArkPanda on June 9, 2006 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

I'd rather see them squabbling ; )

Posted by: Don P. on June 9, 2006 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

It's only going to be a distraction if they squabble over it like kids. Entirely possible, but unlikely, with the stakes so high and the gains so reachable.

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on June 9, 2006 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

And this matters, why? It's bad enough that THE MSM gets bogged down in horse race stories, as if they're beauty pageant commentators or something. But could the blogosphere at least dedicate itself to substantial issues?

For instance, the big buzz with Al Gore's movie seems to be whether he's bucking for political office. How about reporting on the subject matter that the freaking movie is about?

So we may get Murtha and we may get Hoyer. So what? Speculation is a hack's game it seems to me...

Posted by: JJ on June 9, 2006 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

I suspect Gore knows that the only way to get the media to cover a substantive story like global warming is to make it part of the horse race. Hence his leaving the door to a run ever so slightly open...

Posted by: Chris on June 9, 2006 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

I hope Murtha wins. He is one of the KINGS OF PORK and I am on the fringes of his district, benefiting from his steering of $$$ to Pennsylvania.

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 9, 2006 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

Anybody but Hoyer. I'm not convinced Pelosi is the best person for the spot, but she's far from the worst. That distinction belongs to Hoyer (among dems, anyway).

Posted by: MeLoseBrain? on June 9, 2006 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

I'd rather see them squabbling ; )
Posted by: Don P.

That post was straight out of the Cheney playbook, Don Pee. It couldn't be that you 2 are the same person could it...?

Posted by: MeLoseBrain? on June 9, 2006 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

The Dems continue to remind me why I'm registered Green.

So you'll never have to worry about a leadership position?

(Snicker)

Posted by: EmmaAnne on June 9, 2006 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK
The Dems continue to remind me why I'm registered Green.

Well, yeah, never actually having a caucus is the best insulation possible against leadership struggles in the Congressional caucus.

Though, its not as if the Green Party is, in its history, free of petty internal leadership battles, even if it doesn't have people in national office to fight of caucus positions.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 9, 2006 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

With 69% of Americans now saying the Iraq war is a mistake, we can do worse than a party leader who is most famous for saying the war is a mistake and who is a decorated Marine veteran.

What's Hoyer been in the news for lately? Oh yeah, telling Colbert he was too rude to (33% approval) Bush.

A leadership race would be great. If the media buzz is that 'Dems have no ideas', a big debate about ideas would be nice.

Posted by: Alderaan on June 9, 2006 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

This could get ugly?
-=- -=- -=- -=- -=- -=- -=- -=- -=- -=- -=- -=-
I think you mean this will get stupid.

These people are fighting for power, not leadership.

They see themselves as King of the Hill instead of the leader of the hill.

Those whom hold such fanatical ideologies serve to create bias, not peace.
They create disikes, not likes.
They create corruption, not good business practice.
They embrace blame, but do not accept fault.
They hold up truth, yet knock it down with lies.
They hold up equality, then kill it with poverty.
They shout brotherhood, then slay fellow man.
They speak of democracy, yet build empires.
They are not worthy, and worthy are not they.

Posted by: ANON on June 9, 2006 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

I think Murtha will tend to hurt the Dems election chances. Although 69% of Americans think the Iraq war was a mistake, a maority oppose cutting and running.

However, I don't see Murtha as a big issue one way or the other. Most elections will be won on local issues and personalitities.

Posted by: ex-liberal on June 9, 2006 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

sounds like fun to me.

Posted by: Brian on June 9, 2006 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal appears to be a troll, but Murtha's plan is that the troops redeploy "over the horizon", still close by enough to help the government gain its footing. Given that the US deployment by its very presence gains recruits for the other side (no one likes to be occupied) we really have to do this. Calling it "cutting and running" is just wrong.

Steny Hoyer is just awful; he stands for keeping the lobbyists happy and nothing else.

Posted by: Joe Buck on June 9, 2006 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps we are in the same office, MeLoseBrain?

Posted by: Don P. on June 9, 2006 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

I think focusing on these power struggles is a positive development, because the only time a democrat wins an election is when he's up against another democrat. Stick to your core competencies: Circular firing squads and whining. The grown-ups will do the real work.

Posted by: American Hawk on June 9, 2006 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

and where would these leaders lead us to? Sexual preference tolerance, flag abuse tolerance, taking the silver dollars off a dead man's eyes? A whore is still a whore, red dress or blue.

Posted by: Michael7843853 G-O in 08! on June 9, 2006 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

Hoyer: For the Iraq war, for bankruptcy "reform". Guys like him have brought the Dems to their knees. It's hard to imagine how ejecting him from a leadership position could in any way be "ugly".

I dunno how many Maryland Dems read these posts, but on the off chance that some do: Why does the state's Democratic congressional delegation have so much worthless, dead weight? In my own district (next to Hoyer's), Al "I occupy space" Wynn is sure to sail through his primary; I'm not aware that anyone is even challenging him. Wynn's another bankruptcy "reform" whore. How can he claim to represent his constituents, in a district loaded with check-cashing joints and predatory mortgage storefront operations?

Posted by: sglover on June 9, 2006 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

"I'm a member of no organized political party. I'm a Democrat."

Seriously, let's have a leadership fight. Better that than the Repub's who just handed their leadership over to scum.

Posted by: gab on June 9, 2006 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

To the extent that this will be one more thing Rove and the RNC can use to rally the wavering base this fall, I say Godspeed, Mr. Murtha. Please be loud. Petulance is a plus :-)

Posted by: Steve White on June 9, 2006 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Buck writes, Murtha's plan is that the troops redeploy "over the horizon", still close by enough to help the government gain its footing.

Over the horizon to Rep. Murtha is Okinawa. Except the Okinawans won't be happy, so it's more likely to be Guam.

Once our troops are out of Iraq, they won't be going back in. Mr. Murtha and the entire progressive Left will see to that. And if you'd like to disagree, then kindly lay out what you'd think the situation would have to be before the troops, now 'over-the-horizon', go back in. Provide a scenario or two.

My bet is you can't -- at least, you can't create a scenario that a reasonable majority of progessives and liberals would agree to.

'Over-the-horizon' is the current euphemism for cut and run. If Mr. Murtha can't sell it, he'll come up with another one.

Posted by: Steve White on June 9, 2006 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

I think focusing on these power struggles is a positive development, because the only time a democrat wins an election is when he's up against another democrat. Stick to your core competencies: Circular firing squads and whining. The grown-ups will do the real work.

You call real work corruption? Fomenting wars? Prostitutes and Limos? Cunninghams and Delaysssss?
Safavians and Gosses? DHS cops and child porno?
Billions lost and missing? A Unitary Executive run amok with signing statements? Warrantless wire taps?

You call that Grown up? Hard Work?

You seem to be an uninformed, foolish or nefarious person American Chickenhawk.

The mendacity of the Bush administration is appalling.

Yet you embrace that what was listed above, then you further your diatribe with such foolish sentiments as Hard Work, Grown Ups, and Circular Firing Squads?

Moreover, I am utterly amazed at the hypocrisy of your undefendable argument.

this is not struggle of Ideas chicken hawk, today these are power struggles of money and smear campaigns.

The Best and Brightest become the Corrupt and Nefarious.

Your point, whatever is was, is moot.

Posted by: American ChickenSquawk on June 9, 2006 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

sglover >"...Wynn's another bankruptcy "reform" whore. How can he claim to represent his constituents, in a district loaded with check-cashing joints and predatory mortgage storefront operations?"

Well, just who do you think his "constituents" are ?

Seems obvious to me; "whore" meet John(s)

Ohhh, I get it

You actually think "his constituents" are the voters in his district

And you`ve lived in Maryland how long ?

*sheesh*

"Lack of awareness of the basic unity of organism and environment is a serious and dangerous hallucination." - Alan Watts

Posted by: daCascadian on June 9, 2006 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps the Dems are acting like a party and defusing the "yeah, but Pelosi will be Majority Leader" line.

Posted by: kck on June 9, 2006 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

kck:

Wouldn't Occam's Razor tell us the better explanation is that actual squabbling has broken out?

Posted by: Don P. on June 9, 2006 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

Cheney:

You said it, Don!

Cheney nailed it!

Posted by: Charlie on June 9, 2006 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

The Dems continue to remind me why I'm registered Green.

Posted by: ecoboz on June 9, 2006 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK


Greens. I love it. See any difference between Al Gore and George Bush NOW, Einstein?

Posted by: Pat on June 9, 2006 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

John Murtha came to Chicago to help rally the Democrats.

What's Steny Hoyer been up to? Last I heard he was bad-mouthing Democrats.

Performance has consequences, Steny. I see Murtha helping the team. I see you being a drag on the team.

Want to change the perception? Change your performance, Steny.

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on June 9, 2006 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Buck, I accept your explanation that Murtha'a current proposal is not "cutting and running." However, the general public's perception isn't that subtle. To the public, Bush is for our troops staying in Iraq and Murtha is for pulling out. Although a majority wishes we'd never gotten into the war, and they blame Bush, a majority doesn't support pulling out. Thus Murtha tend to be a political liability.

There are conservatives who blame Bush and the Republican Congress for not being conservative enough. They don't like prescription drug coverage under Medicare, big government spending, or amnesty for undocumented workers. Some of these people will sit on their hands in Novermber. But, involvement of Jack Murtha could get them re-energized.

Posted by: ex-liberal on June 9, 2006 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

Cheney:

Could this man Don P. possibly be more right?

Cheney nailed it!

Also, I'd again like to emphasize that that I am not using a plethora of different names, such as my own, Cheney, Don P., Tinkerbell, etc. We are all completely different and distinct people.

Most importantly, I do not have a screaming chorus of lunatics talking constantly inside my head. I am not insane. Not insane not insane not not not insane.

NOT INSANE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Charlie on June 9, 2006 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

Charlie:

Most importantly, I do not have a screaming chorus of lunatics talking constantly inside my head. I am not insane. Not insane not insane not not not insane.

Charlie nailed it!

Posted by: Don P. on June 9, 2006 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps the Dems are acting like a party and defusing the "yeah, but Pelosi will be Majority Leader" line.

That's dumb, because Pelosi is naturally expected to be Speaker, not Majority Leader, if the Dems take a majority, and this isn't a challenge to her in that role.

So, attempting to defuse a meme which does not exist about Pelosi's future by announcing a challenge to someone who is not Pelosi for a role Pelosi would not be naturally expected to seek is, well, an unlikely explanation.

A more likely explanation is -- as Don P. points out, demonstrating the popular adage about stopped clocks -- a real struggle forming over the Majority Leader position.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 9, 2006 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

Nice riposte @ American Hawk...

Gotta say...

Whomever wrote that is far smarter than the normal dumb-cluck who writes under that nom de troll....

Posted by: koreyel on June 9, 2006 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

"Greens. I love it. See any difference between Al Gore and George Bush NOW, Einstein?"
Posted by: Pat on June 9, 2006 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

I must admit that I'm not nearly as smart as Einstein.

Your assumption that beacuse someone is Green that they voted for Nader is poor. And, whether Nader cost Gore the elction is debatable, but let's not debate it since I had plenty of that in 2000.

And, you're all right, the Greens are not a vaible party and distract from the Dems message. They are a convenient parking spot for my regsitration until the Dems get it together. I spent numerous election cycles when I was younger knocking on doors, chairing College Democrats at my campus, and organizing fund raisers. Now I spend my eneregy giving to organizations that have a clear mission, stick to their principles, and actually want to accomplish something (and that's not the Greens either, but other progressive orgs).

The Dems can argue over leadership positions in December. Right now they should be focused like a laser on defeating Repubs in the mid-terms.

Posted by: ecoboz on June 9, 2006 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

Don P, maybe squabbling, but since the Majority Leader position is not a trifling matter, maybe they're authentically positioning.

Posted by: kck on June 9, 2006 at 8:10 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, just fucking great,

Where are the fucking progressives?

Posted by: angryspittle on June 9, 2006 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

Oops, Don P, I misspoke. Thanks, cmdicely, I'll get back in focus.

Posted by: kck on June 9, 2006 at 8:27 PM | PERMALINK

I am completely insane!

I am totally bonkers!

I am a raving lunatic!

INSANE! INSANE! INSANE! I AM INSANE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Pale Rider on June 9, 2006 at 10:49 PM | PERMALINK

I wouldn't worry too much about the possibility of the Democrats retaking the House or anything else. Despite all the wing-flapping how how voters are going to sweep the Repubs out of office and usher the Dems back in, it ain't gonna happen.

Want to know why? Go read Robert Parry's entry entitled "Why Democrats Lose" on his ConsortiumNews blog:

http://www.consortiumnews.com/index.html

The conditions that have made the Democrats the minority party are still operative today and it's the Democratic Party's own damned fault!

Posted by: Taobhan on June 9, 2006 at 11:04 PM | PERMALINK

The conditions that have made the Democrats the minority party are still operative today and it's the Democratic Party's own damned fault!

Your real problem is that you're not putting enough effort into constantly screaming that ordinary Americans are selfish, imperialist bigots, and that Republicans are evil, fascist war criminals. You need to do much more of that. That's how you'll regain power. Trust me.

Posted by: GOP on June 9, 2006 at 11:39 PM | PERMALINK

Chicken Hawk's point, as always, is that he believes in a one-party state, and he's devoted to it with all the deep courage it takes to suck up to the autocrat currently in power.

We need more people like him... in North Korea.

Posted by: Kenji on June 10, 2006 at 2:53 AM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: gdsfd on June 10, 2006 at 4:36 AM | PERMALINK

Hoyer's my Congresscritter. And I'm delighted to see Murtha take him on.

Hoyer casts votes for the corporate world at the expense of the people too damned often. His latest was his split-the-difference approach to the COPE Act, i.e. the Let's-Kill-Net-Neutrality Bill, Thursday night. He voted for the Markey Amendment, but when it failed, he still voted for the bill to kill Net Neutrality. (Murtha voted for the Markey Amendment, and against the bill.)

Posted by: RT on June 10, 2006 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

RT -- Is there any even quasi-serious primary challenge possible in Hoyer's district?

Posted by: sglover on June 10, 2006 at 11:00 PM | PERMALINK

sglover: primary challenge possible in Hoyer's district?

No, only lemmings need apply. Hoyer has been very good for federal employees (and there are many) in the district, in addition to keeping/getting funding for the multiple federal installations: NASA Goddard Space, ATF Lab, Patuxent Naval Station, and the list goes on.

The 'vote-rich' part of his district is Prince Georges County, where the state flagship university is located. He's on the Board of Regents & brings in the money for the university, which also happens to be one of the largest employers in the county.

Steny Hoyer is a "the trains run on time" type of politician from a local perspective. And, I've seen Steny Hoyer bumper stickers since junior high ... while living in Montgomery County outside his district. That's how entrenched he is.

Wynn is MD-04 and Hoyer is MD-05. After NOLA-Katrina, Prince Georges County (and Baltimore City) are the #1 majority Black jurisdictions in the nation, traditionally voting around 90% Democratic. So, the redistricting in 2000 carved up PG to give one chunk to MD-04 & another chunk to MD-05. In both cases, the majority of votes come from PG and offsets the more conservative southern Maryland counties bundled into MD-05, and the more conservative areas of Montgomery County bundled into MD-04.

Upthread somebody asked how we Marylanders are stuck with Wynn & Hoyer. Well, Wynn is a former state senator from PG County and is well-connected. He has a primary challenger (Donna Edwards), but I think this go-round serves to build name recognition for her. Hoyer doesn't have a challenger, AFAIK. I've thought about what approach I'd take if I were knocking on doors for challengers, but remember, Verizon is the 8th largest employer in the DC area. I personally know quite a few ppl employed by Verizon along the Rt 29 corridor in Montgomery (Wynn's district), so hissing that he takes money from telcos could be a non-starter. Similarly for Hoyer, you'd be likely to trip over federal or university employees in PG.

Incidentally, the GOP is running an African-American challenger to Hoyer, but I don't think he'll impact Hoyer's stronghold in PG.

Posted by: MD05 on June 11, 2006 at 4:23 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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