Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

BY JOHN FUND – The mini-revolt staged against Nancy Pelosi yesterday by some of her fellow House Democrats was born of both frustration and fear.

A total of 19 House Democrats, or one-tenth of her caucus, voted against Ms. Pelosi for speaker. It was the greatest number of defections any candidate for speaker had suffered from his own party in almost 90 years. Several members who voted for other candidates, such as Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio, have clashed with her top-down leadership style in the past.

And although most of the defectors hail from marginal districts in which Ms. Pelosi has become a clear political liability, there were some surprises. Michael Michaud of Maine, Kurt Schrader of Oregon and Ron Kind of Wisconsin represent districts carried easily by Barack Obama. “It just shows how nervous Pelosi can make Democrats worried about being attacked as liberal tools,” one GOP leadership aide told me.

Democrats privately admit that the number of defectors would have been far higher but for one fact: Ms. Pelosi, who controls the assignment of members to various committees, held off on naming which members would serve on which committees until after the vote. Any member contemplating opposing her had to weigh the potential costs of retribution.

— John Fund

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