Matsui noncommittal about new DCCC term

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) publicly asked Rep. Robert Matsui (D-Calif.) yesterday to serve another cycle as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).

“He knows he’s always welcome,” Pelosi said at a news conference.
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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)

Her public support for Matsui was echoed throughout the caucus at yesterday’s closed-door luncheon and was matched by rank-and-file support for Pelosi and the rest of the House Democratic leadership team, several lawmakers and aides said.

Despite Pelosi’s public plea, Matsui has been decidedly noncommittal about running the party’s campaign arm for another cycle and did not immediately accept Pelosi’s offer.

Matsui told The Hill, “The leader and I will have to sit down and talk about this in the next couple of weeks.”

“It’s been a very time-consuming job,” he added.

“I wouldn’t say the caucus has asked him to stay on, but that’s the sentiment of the caucus,” said Rep. Jim Clyburn (S.C.), the caucus vice chairman, who noted that the DCCC chairman serves at the pleasure of the minority leader.

“I fully expect him to stay on,” Clyburn added.

At least one possible candidate to replace Matsui took herself out of contention yesterday. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) told The Hill she had no interest in the top campaign job.

As they adjust to the idea of two more years as a congressional opposition party, Democrats said they needed to sharpen their differences with the president and cast the Democratic alternative in high relief to the GOP agenda.

“We are confident that when we go into 2006, we’re going to have the people with us,” Pelosi said.

After the well-attended luncheon, Democrats attempted to paint their three-seat loss in a rosy light, insisting that they outperformed the Senate Democrats and the Kerry campaign. They insisted that Democrats would have gained six seats since 2002 were it not for party switches and the Texas redistricting that cost them five seats.

“We’re not as much of a minority party as they say, and the Republicans are not the supermajority party they pretend to be,” said Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.).

Pelosi and other Democratic leaders staked out their opposition to President Bush on the war in Iraq and what they fear could be Social Security privatization. But they insisted that they would seek common ground and appeared to be willing to accept Bush’s public comments of wanting to increase bipartisan harmony in his second term.

“There should be an endless list of where we can work together,” Pelosi said.