N.Y. Dem Owens might support Republican John Boehner for Speaker

A Democratic congressman who backed Speaker Nancy Pelosi for minority leader said Monday it is “quite possible” he might vote for Republican John Boehner for Speaker in the next Congress.

Rep. Bill Owens (N.Y.) said he voted for Pelosi (D-Calif.) for minority leader in a House Democratic caucus meeting last week, even though he thinks she is too liberal. But Owens said he is open to supporting Boehner, whom House Republicans designated as the next Speaker, when the full House votes next year. 

{mosads}The congressman’s statement, to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, underscores the fact that a bloc of Democrats still resent Pelosi’s decision to remain at the head of the House Democratic caucus despite their large losses in the midterm elections.

Republicans ran against many vulnerable Democrats by tying them to Pelosi, who is unpopular with the public.

Pelosi faced an insurgent challenge from conservative Blue Dog Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) but won a term as minority leader, a position she previously held from 2003-2007, by a 150-43 vote. 

Owens, who voted for the healthcare law in March, said he voted for Pelosi only before requesting that she “agrees to govern from the center.”

“When I was asked to support her [Pelosi], I said I will if she agrees to govern from the center and makes jobs her priority,” Owens said. “She assured me that she would, and I made it equally clear that if she didn’t, I would not support her going forward.”

Owens won a closely watched 2009 special election to replace Rep. John McHugh (R) in New York’s 23rd district, which had long been held by Republicans. He was elected to a full term three weeks ago by a 2 percentage point margin over his GOP opponent.

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