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November 13, 2006
 by Zachary Roth
Zachary Roth

HANDICAPPING HOYER AND MURTHA... Could Nancy Pelosi's announcement of support for her old friend John Murtha in his race with Steny Hoyer for majority leader give the Pennsylvanian a chance of pulling off an upset? A knowledgeable former Hoyer aide thinks it will have "some impact", but he puts Pelosi's move in the "least-she-can-do" category, and still strongly expects Hoyer to prevail.

By my source's count, Hoyer had support from 110 returning members. Over the weekend, Hoyer announced that he had the backing of 21 of the 40 new members, though my source thinks he'll have more beyond that. That gives Hoyer at least 131 members in his camp, more than enough to put him over the top.

The former Hoyer aide thinks Hoyer's hectic travel schedule -- in which he appeared on behalf of Democratic candidates in around 60 districts in the race's final 10 days -- made the difference. Hoyer, he says, "can go into the moderate districts where Jack [Murtha] can't go. [Murtha's] a pretty polarizing figure in lets say a third of the country, and the schedule reflected that."

Zachary Roth 3:22 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (8)

I was looking over the letter sent to Hoyer from Dems pledging their support of him; Waxman, Taucher, Barney Frank, Ike Skelton etc. It's remarkable. He spans the whole range from House Progressive Caucus-ites, to New Democrats, to Blue Dogs. This leads me to believe that their must be some really positive qualities to Hoyer that those on the outside looking in, can't really see.

As far as I can tell, the only people supporting Murtha are those within Pelosi's immediate loyalist camp like George Miller.

Posted by: DRR on November 13, 2006 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

I guess it is safe to say there will be no K-Street reform.

The next two years will go quickly, and then the Democrats will lose to resurgent Republicans or maybe to some reform party. So much for a generational shift.

If the Democrats don't do real, serious, hard lobbying reform the election will prove to be meaningless.

I also predict that, given his past record, Steney Hoyer will eventually become embroiled in an ethics mess that will cost the Democrats dearly in 2008 and might just put him in jail. Haven't the elected Democrats learned anything over the past few years.

Can we have a majority leader who is not in bed with the K-Street gang? Please.

Posted by: Ron Byers on November 13, 2006 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

Nobody's ever heard of Hoyer. Everyone in the country knows who Jack Murtha is. He's the guy who had the balls to say its time to leave. Where was Hoyer when he said that? Cowering and complaining that Murtha would lose the Dems the '06 election. Who deserves Majority Leader--the one with foresight and balls or the one who stood on the sidelines and waited to see which way the wind would blow? I know who most Americans would choose and it ain't Hoyer.

Posted by: Mike in SLO on November 13, 2006 at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK

"I know who most Americans would choose and it ain't Hoyer."

Maybe so, but the House and Senate have always chosen their internal leadership with little concern for public opinion - and there has rarely been much public concern over who the House and Senate party leaders were.

What percentage of Americans know who the House Majority Leader is right now? (John Boehner, if you're wondering.) I bet it's in the single digits.

Hoyer's got his good and bad points. (He's my Congressman, so I've been paying attention.) Here's a quick summary of his votes:

BAD: voted for Bankruptcy Deform, for Patriot Act reauthorization, and for the COPE Act that would have killed Net Neutrality.

Caveat: on each of the above, he voted for a motion to recommit, and voted for passage after losing there. Not much of a caveat - really just a way of having it both ways.

GOOD: Voted against Class Action Deform, against interfering in the Terry Schiavo case, against Estate Tax repeal (over and over again), against the Energy Bill (ditto), for Stem Cell research, against the extension of Bush tax cuts, against weakening the Endangered Species Act, against weakening pension (ERISA) protections, against the Electronic Surveillance Modernization Act, against the Military Commissions Act.

He didn't equivocate on any of the 'good' stuff; he was on the same side all the way. Plus he was on the good side of several smaller bills you probably didn't hear of, but might well matter to you if you had. Which is what you'd hope your Congresscritter would be doing - voting the right way, even when the spotlight wasn't on him.

My main gripe with Hoyer is that he's not much of a leader, AFAICT. When many of the bills I listed above were approaching a vote in Congress - usually hours away, or at most a day or two - I'd call up his office to ask where he stood. I rarely was able to get an answer until after he voted. A leader needs to take stands, and rally people to his side. If Hoyer does that, it's certainly invisible to me. And I'm less than fond of a Congressman who treats his votes as a state secret until after he casts them.

And of course you know about the K Street stuff, so I'll skip that.

Posted by: RT on November 14, 2006 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

There was a pretty hard-hitting piece in the Washington Post this morning, but the reason I hope Hoyer gets it is simple-- his views reflect the majority of Democratic views on abortion, guns, the environment, gay and lesbian rights, minimum wage, stopping torture, etc., etc. Hoyer has been criticized by folks for not opposing the war-- except that both Hoyer AND Murtha voted for the war, and both now believe we need to bring the troops home.

As DRR said above, it's amazing how many Democratic Congressmen (and Congresswomen!) are supporting Hoyer-- one reason is that he's led them ably as Democratic Whip, working with Nancy Pelosi: They know that he can do it again as Majority Leader.

Either way, we need a unified caucus, passing good legislation.. I think Hoyer's better equipped to do that. Even if he and Pelosi don't always like each other, they get stuff done, and we need them both leading the House.


Posted by: PragmaticProgressive on November 14, 2006 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

"[Murtha's] a pretty polarizing figure in lets say a third of the country,"

That's because most voters know who Murtha is. They have no idea who Hoyer is.

Murtha has been all over TV. He has been swiftboated, demonized, tarred and feathered by the Right Wing Noise Machine. So 30% negative is not so bad.

If Hoyer wins he will be subjected to demonization by the Right Wing Noise Machine. He'll be lucky if he can keep his negatives down to 30%.

This rule also applies to Obama, Vilsack and the rest of the untested Democrats. They all have low negatives. It is because they have not been targeted by the Right Wing Noise Machine. Talk to me after they have been trashed 24/7 by Rush/FOX/WSJ editorial page axis of slander and smear.

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