By Russell Berman and Mike Lillis - 11/03/10 04:11 PM EDT
Outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) will sit for an interview Wednesday with ABC News as House Democrats wait for a decision on her future in Congress.
The decimated Democratic caucus is “in a holding pattern,” one Democratic aide said Wednesday, hours after the party suffered a landslide loss of their House majority
Unlike Republicans, who are now jockeying for leadership posts in the 112th Congress, House Democrats are keeping their powder dry until they get a signal from Pelosi, who has given no indication of whether she intends to remain in the party leadership or stay in Congress at all.
With the party losing more than 60 seats Tuesday, many Democrats expect Pelosi to step down from her leadership post, which would allow Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) to head the caucus. And the exodus might happen sooner than later.
The Republicans did “a masterful job” of creating a negative brand out of Pelosi, one Democratic strategist and former Hill staffer said Wednesday. For that reason, the strategist added, she might step down before the end of the year “so the negative branding doesn't carry on into the next Congress” — a sentiment echoed Wednesday by another former Democratic House staffer.
In that case, the strategist speculated, the trick for Pelosi and the Democrats would be to make the exit as low profile as possible — perhaps during the Christmas break when Capitol Hill is a ghost town and the country is distracted by the holidays.
The role for Pelosi in the meantime, the strategist said, will be largely “to direct her supporters through the post-Pelosi era” — a delicate task for a liberal group sometimes wary of the more conservative Hoyer.
In a statement on the election results early Wednesday morning, the Speaker defended the Democratic record but made no reference to her future.
“Over the last four years, the Democratic majority in the House took courageous action on behalf of America’s middle class to create jobs and save the country from the worst economic catastrophe since the Great Depression,” Pelosi said in a statement issued after 1 a.m. EST.
“The outcome of the election does not diminish the work we have done for the American people. We must all strive to find common ground to support the middle class, create jobs, reduce the deficit and move our nation forward.”
While Hoyer might become minority leader for Democrats, Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) is hoping to remain the party whip.