Shuler on Pelosi: If 'she doesn't step aside, I will challenge her' for top post

Blue Dog Rep. Heath Shuler (N.C.) said on Sunday that he will run for House Democratic Leader if Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) doesn't drop her bid for the top-ranking position.

Though he said he doesn't "have the numbers to win," Shuler told CNN's Joe Johns on "State of the Union" that his caucus deserves to have a moderate candidate to vote for when the caucus elects their leaders on Wednesday.

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“If it comes down to this coming week, and she doesn’t step aside, then I will challenge her," Shuler said.

Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) was firm that Pelosi would not drop her bid to retain her status as the No. 1 ranked House Democrat.

"She's made the declaration ... and we all know that she will be a candidate and as Heath Shuler just said, if he were to get in the race, he would not be successful," Clyburn said on CNN following his junior colleague's interview.

Clyburn and Pelosi reached an agreement on Friday night to avert a divisive battle in the caucus when they created a new No. 3 ranking leadership position for Clyburn. Instead of serving as whip in the minority, Clyburn would take on the title of Assistant Leader.

The House's highest-ranking African-American lawmaker was locked in a fight with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) for the No. 2 ranking leadership spot in the 112th Congress.

Leading up to the late-night deal brokered by Pelosi, Clyburn said that some Democrats told him they would not go to the leadership meeting if they had to choose between Clyburn and Hoyer or Clyburn and Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson (Conn.).


"Some told me if a vote came up and they were in the room that they would leave the room, so what we did was look at this issue and see how we could best keep our caucus together," Clyburn said on CNN.

Shuler said that Clyburn should remain in a leadership post, but Pelosi needs to go.

“Let’s be realistic about it, there’s very few numbers of (moderates) left, the entire House is being pushed further and further apart in their different viewpoints and the moderates have to bring our country together to move our country forward. I would really hope that [Pelosi] would step aside to allow Steny Hoyer, James Clyburn -- those gentlemen-to step forward in the leadership positions that they held in the majority, to be the leader and to be whip,” Shuler said.

Shuler believes that his party didn't get the message on Election Day when voters kicked Democrats out of majority control of the House if his caucus keeps Pelosi at the top of their leadership team.

"I hope that with so many members that we need to go in a different direction, that we have to be able to recruit or get back those members of Congress that lost, and I just don’t see that path happening if she’s at the top of the Democrats,” Shuler said.

Clyburn said, however, that Pelosi led Democrats to the land "of milk and honey" back in 2006 when her party regained the majority after 12 years of GOP rule. Shuler was elected to the House in the class of 2006 -- the lawmakers who Pelosi has referred to as her "majority makers."

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