Election year consequences

The Nov. 6 election will have a big impact on congressional leadership races in the lame-duck session.

Great speculation has focused on House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who has predicted that Democrats are more likely than not to win back the lower chamber.

We and most other observers don’t buy it. Independent political handicappers expect the Dems to pick up seats, but not the 25 they need to grab the gavel from Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

Despite a tumultuous Congress, Boehner and his lieutenants, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), will probably be in their same spots next year. The only way that could change is if Pelosi’s prediction proves true.

Pelosi’s deputies, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (S.C.) and Caucus Vice Chairman Xavier Becerra (D-

Calif.), are not going anywhere.

But there are questions about other House Democrats and whether they will mount leadership bids. This group includes Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.) and Rep. John Larson (Conn.), who is term-limited as caucus chairman.

Meanwhile, the political futures of the chairmen of the House campaign committees, Reps. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) and Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), will likely hinge on the election results.

The two party leaders in the upper chamber, Sens. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), are expected to stay at the head of their caucuses. But which one will be majority leader?

Should the GOP seize control of the Senate, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) would be a heavy favorite to replace retiring Senate GOP Whip Jon Kyl (Ariz.). And even if Republicans fall short, Cornyn would still stand a good shot at the No. 2-ranking post. No other Republican has thrown his or her hat into the ring for the whip contest, although Sen. John Thune (S.D.), one of McConnell’s lieutenants, has not ruled out a bid.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who is up for reelection, has been coy about whether he will seek reelection in 2014. He told The Hill last month that he’s “planning on” running, but added, “I haven’t made up my mind yet.”

Should Durbin not seek a fourth term, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) would be seen as Reid’s clear successor.

The landscape for leadership contests can change rapidly, especially in the hours and days after the election. 

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