Nancy Pelosi Lost a Major Proxy Battle Today
At issue was the ranking minority member slot — yes, weirdly, this matters a lot — on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The job was open due to the retirement of California Rep. Henry Waxman. Pelosi’s preferred candidate to succeed Waxman was fellow California Rep. Anna Eshoo (D) but New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone was more senior than Eshoo and wanted the job. He won — 100 to 90 — in what veteran congressional observers cast as a major setback for the Minority Leader and a sign of cracking in her legendarily unified front.
Here’s why. Pelosi threw the weight of her organization inside the House behind Eshoo. (Eshoo doesn’t even have a chief of staff based full time in Washington.) Pelosi functioned as the campaign manager of Eshoo’s bid, publicly and privately. “It’s about the future,” Pelosi told the Post earlier this week about her support for Eshoo. “And secondly, it’s about California, too.” Earlier in the fall, Pelosi sent a letter to her colleagues that claimed Eshoo had 105 solid commitments, more than enough to win.
And yet, Eshoo still lost — a rebuke to Pelosi that would have seemed unimaginable just a few years ago. (No matter what you think of Pelosi, it’s hard to argue that her ability to keep her people in line has been absolutely remarkable.) The Eshoo rebuke came less than 24 hours after comedian Jon Stewart blasted Pelosi and insisted it was time for her to step aside, and amid continued grumbling from some within the House Democratic caucus about her decision to stay put despite the party’s losses in the midterm elections.