Pelosi's Leadership Appears Secure, but a Handful of Dems Oppose Her

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has caught some blowback for the big, tough votes she brought to the House floor during the past two years, and now a handful of Democrats say they oppose her bid to lead House Democrats again as minority leader, The New York Times' Carle Hulse reports:

On Tuesday, two lawmakers -- Representatives Marcy Kaptur of Ohio and Peter DeFazio of Oregon -- urged that the leadership elections now scheduled for next week be put off until December to give Democrats more time to consider what went wrong. And two Illinois lawmakers from the Chicago area - Representatives Mike Quigley, a more liberal lawmaker, and moderate Dan Lipinksi - joined those who said they would prefer another person at the helm.

That brings to more than 15 the number of House Democrats who to varying degrees have publicly raised concerns over Ms. Pelosi hanging on at the top. It is not a large number but still a surprising amount given the power Ms. Pelosi has wielded and will wield again should she be the minority leader.

Democrats are planning to hold votes for leadership positions on Monday, one Democratic lawmaker told me; if the votes are pushed back (which seems unlikely) it would give Pelosi's critics more time to pick a candidate to challenge her.

The few Democratic aides I've talked to do not expect Pelosi to have any trouble getting re-elected as leader of the House Democratic caucus. She has fierce loyalists within the ranks, and many view her Speakership as quite successful, given the bills Democrats were able to pass during her tenure.

Moderate and conservative Democrats, some of whom are upset with Pelosi and weren't part of her power base to begin with, are expected to put up a challenger. So far, North Carolina's Heath Shuler is on the record as planning to run if no other viable candidates emerge.

But any challenge to Pelosi is expected to be nominal...unless an unlikely scenario unfolds in which Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who represents a moderate faction of House Dems, decides to mount a bid. He's worked closely with Pelosi over the past four years, and he stands to lose quite a bit if he challenges her, so it doesn't look like he'll have much interest in doing so now.

While some moderate Democrats sought to disassociate themselves during the campaign season from Pelosi's leadership and agenda, the Speaker remains in a powerful position, not just because she commands respect from fellow Democrats, and not just because it figures that Democrats would want a leader who can maintain party unity in the minority, but because the 2010 losses subtracted heavily from the moderate coalition that could oppose her.

The Democratic caucus is going to be more liberal in the next Congress. That's just a fact. And Pelosi is the heavy favorite to lead it, despite rumblings from the moderate wing.