Democratic vote on Speaker Pelosi expected to be unanimous

Despite Republican campaign tactics and some Democrats’ ambivalence on the campaign trail, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is expected to be supported by her entire caucus when she is formally voted Speaker of the House today.

A handful of Democratic challengers and incumbents in red-state districts last year declined to answer directly whether they would vote for Pelosi as their leader. Some Republicans pressed the matter on the campaign trail, repeatedly referring to Pelosi as “a San Francisco liberal.”

Now that the election is behind them, however, some of those Democrats have committed to voting for her. And if a House Democrat is planning on voting for anyone other than Pelosi, her office hasn’t gotten a heads-up.

Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Pelosi, says he expects unanimous Democratic support.

“I haven’t heard of anything to indicate that it would be anything other than a unanimous Democratic vote,” Hammill said.

While the votes for Pelosi will undoubtedly be used as campaign ammunition against some Democrats in 2008, not voting for the most powerful House member would attract media attention and potentially be a distraction from Pelosi’s moment in the sun. Such a vote would be remembered by leadership officials throughout the 110th Congress, observers say.

In 2004, Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.) was the only Democrat not to vote for Pelosi in the Speaker vote, opting instead to vote for Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.). But now with Democrats in control of the House, Taylor will vote for Pelosi. Taylor represents a district that overwhelmingly backed President Bush in 2004.

Rep. John Salazar (D-Colo.) last year would not commit to voting for Pelosi on the campaign trail. Salazar went on to defeat Republican Scott Tipton, 61 to 37 percent. Ronnie Carleton, Salazar’s chief of staff, says that Salazar “is committed to voting for Pelosi and fully expects her to be the next Speaker of the House.”

Similarly, a spokesman for Rep. Melissa Bean (D-Ill.) has said that she is now committed to voting for Pelosi. During her first reelection campaign last year, Bean was criticized by the GOP in ads labeling her an automatic vote for Pelosi. Bean subsequently won her race by 7 points.

Reps.-elect Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and Brad Ellsworth (D-Ind.) faced similar scrutiny during the campaign from their GOP opponents. While they avoided stating whether they would vote for Pelosi in 2006, these soon-to-be lawmakers will formally back her today.

Rep.-elect Harry Mitchell (D-Ariz.) has also come around to fully supporting Pelosi. In an interview last year with The Hill, Mitchell hesitated when asked whether he would vote for Pelosi. “I guess so. I wouldn’t vote for a Republican,” Mitchell said at the time.

Democratic challenger Charlie Stuart tried to pick up votes in Florida’s conservative 8th District by definitively stating he would not vote for Pelosi if elected. Rep. Ric Keller (R-Fla.) defeated Stuart 53 to 46 percent on Nov. 7.