Pelosi rues loss of Dem talent

Pelosi rues loss of Dem talent
© Getty Images

The looming retirement of Maryland Sen. Barbara MikulskiBarbara Ann MikulskiDems ponder gender politics of 2020 nominee Robert Mueller's forgotten surveillance crime spree Clinton: White House slow-walking Russia sanctions MORE (D) threatens to gut House Democrats of some of their top talent, House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiPelosi condemns Trump's 'cowardly, disgusting' ban on transgender troops Trump threatens to veto omnibus over lack of wall funding, DACA fix Congress votes to expand deficit — and many in GOP are unhappy MORE (D-Calif.) lamented Tuesday. 

“I think you could probably say that Sen. Mikulski's decision not to seek reelection has caused a stunning change in our House Democratic Caucus, if everyone who says he or she is running decides to run,” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol. “I think that's the biggest hit in terms of the talent in the House.”

A senator since 1987, the 78-year-old Mikulski announced earlier in the month that she plans to retire at the end of 2016, when her fifth term expires. 

The move sparked a storm of interest from Maryland's House delegation, including Reps. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenWash. gov signs universal voter registration law Spending talks face new pressure Around 100 visa waivers granted in early part of Trump travel ban MORE, ranking member of the Budget Committee, and Donna EdwardsDonna F. EdwardsDemocratic Senate candidate blasts own party for racial 'foghorn' Autoworkers' union endorsing Van Hollen in MD Senate race Dem leaders' hard sell pays off on omnibus MORE, head of the Democrats' Steering and Policy Committee, who both quickly threw their hats into the ring. 

Maryland Reps. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsOvernight Health Care: What to expect in omnibus | HIV expert to head CDC | Sessions issues memo on death penalty for drug cases Coherent strategy needed beyond limited sanctions to counter Russian aggression House Oversight Dems: GOP blocking request for Trump admin records MORE (D), senior Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, John Delaney (D), John Sarbannes (D) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D) have also expressed interest in the race.

“I think almost everybody – not Steny – but almost everybody else is looking at the race,” Pelosi said, referring to Maryland Rep. Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerSteyer brings his push to impeach Trump to town halls across the nation Congress may pass background check legislation in funding bill Anti-abortion Dem’s political career on the line in Illinois MORE, her top lieutenant. 

“Hopefully over the course of the next few weeks or months, there'll be some winnowing down.” 

Maryland is not alone. Pelosi also rued that 2016 Senate races in several other states – including California, Illinois and Florida – are also threatening to thin the crop of young and up-and-coming House Democrats. 

“We're used to improving the talent in the Senate, sending over some of our very best people. It’s just that so many of the people who are in the [House] leadership ... are looking at that,” Pelosi said. “And so my view is bittersweet. You know, I want members to reach their own personal fulfillment, and they'd be great [senators], I know. I also want to see some generational change in the House.”

Pelosi singled out Reps. Xavier Becerra (Calif.), head of the House Democratic Caucus, Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.) as potentially leaving the House next year for a shot at the upper chamber. And that list, Pelosi said, “is not inclusive of all the names of people who are thinking about running” across the country.

“If I had my way I'd have none of them run, they'd all stay here and continue to enrich our leadership in the House,” Pelosi said. “But that's not how decisions are made. They're personal and individual and timely in people's lives and in their careers and the contribution that they can make and the opportunity that they have.”