Defeated Rep. Bobby Bright (D-Ala.), one of the most conservative Democrats in the House, says voting to keep Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) the party's leader sends a clear message that "centrist Democrats don't matter."
Bright lost his bid for reelection earlier this month to Republican Martha Roby and fought hard to distance himself from the House Speaker and the Democratic leadership throughout his campaign.
The outgoing congressman told The Hill that Pelosi was "the only issue in my race. I never could engage with my opponent meaningfully on issues. I've never been part of an election like that."
He called the apparent decision to allow Pelosi to retain her position atop the Democratic leadership "a major mistake."
During the campaign, Bright ran an ad that boasted he voted with House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) close to 80 percent of the time and touted his vote against "massive government healthcare." He also vowed to not be a vote for Pelosi again.
In a response to a question on the campaign trail over whether he would support the House Speaker should Democrats retain the majority, Bright joked that the Speaker might die before Democrats had to again make a decision on leadership.
Bright said his advice to Democratic members who managed to survive the Republican wave is to work toward the middle and find a way to push party politics aside. He also said he wouldn't rule out making another run for the seat in 2012 or later down the road.
"Right now, I plan on just taking a step back and try to analyze what's out there," he said. "But you never say never."