Why Pelosi and Reid Will Stay
Posted on November 11, 2014
(This originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal)
You might think that after the shellacking they received last Tuesday, House and Senate Democrats would want new leadership.
Americans believe in accountability. The Yankees regularly fire managers when the team doesn’t win the World Series. CEOs who don’t meet their bottom lines are bounced all the time.
Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic leader, and Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, have had long, successful careers. And both are 74, well beyond the retirement age of most Americans.
But here are four reasons they will most likely stick around:
1. President Obama gets the blame, not them. The Republican victory last Tuesday was no surprise, mostly because of the president’s terrible approval ratings. While Sen. Reid and Rep. Pelosi could have done a better job in their leadership positions, their members don’t blame them for their electoral failures this fall. They blame the president. The Washington Post had a fascinating behind-the-scenes report showing how frustrated the Democratic leadership had become with the president and his team. That was just the tip of the iceberg.
2. They bring the money. Rep. Pelosi raised more than $100 million for Democrats in the last cycle, an astounding figure for a member of the House minority. Harry Reid’s Senate Majority PAC turned out to be the indispensable political action committee for Democrats struggling to keep their heads above water in the tidal wave that swamped their majority.
3. They are simpatico with the majority of their minority. Congressional Democrats now represent liberal America. The last House “blue dog,” John Barrow, is packing his bags, and even in the Senate liberals dominate. Much ink has been spilled about how Republicans have moved to the right; meanwhile, Democrats have moved even further to the left. Harry Reid once was seen as a pro-life, pro-gun centrist, but he is now considered a reliable vote for liberal causes. Rep. Pelosi represents San Francisco–enough said.
4. Nobody wants to challenge them. You have to beat somebody with somebody. And right now, there is no movement to replace either Rep. Pelosi or Sen. Reid. Rep. Steny Hoyer, the top vote counter for House Democrats, knows that he doesn’t have the votes, and he is content as whip. There has been a lot of speculation that Sen. Chuck Schumer, the No. 3 Senate Democrat, might be interested in the top job, but he would have to leapfrog Sen. Dick Durbin, the Democratic whip, and as they share a residence on the Hill that seems rather unlikely.