Can Nancy Pelosi win back the House majority?

Jun 27, 2011

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Read Inside Nancy Pelosi's drive to win the House majority back for Democrats and chat with Post reporter Karen Tumulty about whether or not you think Pelosi can win back the majority. Ask questions, give opinions!

This is Karen Tumulty. Thanks so much for joining us here for a live chat about today's Nancy Pelosi story--or about whatever else you might have on your mind.

I live in Rhode Island's 1st congressisonal district and I remember when Republicans were targetting this area in 2010 post-Scott Brown, but gave up pretty quickly. I remember in 2006 midterms, Democrats won in congressional districts that NEVER voted Democratic and voted in George W. Bush by double-digit margins in 2004 i.e. Harry Teague in NM-03 or the upset in IL-14 which was House Speaker Denny Hastert's seat. Yet in 2010 midterms, I kept looking for the Republicans who usually Democratic strongholds and there didn't seem to be many. Maybe Duluth-based MN-08 or WI-07 (hard to tell there since Dave Obey held that seat since 1969), but even then those C.D.'s are just slightly more Democratic leaning then Republican. What gives?

Pelosi addressed that question in my first interview with her.

 

According to her, there are currently 60 Republican House members in districts that were won by Barack Obama in 2008. And of those, 15 were also won by John Kerry in 2004.

 

Pelosi's view is that these are districts that  "have Democrats in their DNA," so she is hopeful that, in a presidential year, Democrats can pick upa lot of those seats.

It's sort of odd is comparing Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin, from the "Family Values" or "Traditional Values" party, to Nancy Pelosi. All three are mothers who have 5 children. Yet Bachmann and Palin sought political office while there children where still infants yet Pelosi didn't run for congress until her youngest daughter was graduating from high school. Pelosi, eldest daughter of popular Baltimore Mayor Tommy D'Alesandro, was no stranger to politics yet often says she put motherhood ahead of her own political ambitions. Bachmann and Palin put great emphasis on the whole "Mama Grizzly" or "Pitbull with Lipstick Hockey Mom" stuff yet Pelosi, who of course mentions her children and grandchildren in public, never makes the "I'm a mother therefore vote for me" case for herself. Maybe it's more generational then partisan.

I think it is very dangerous to open up a new front of the "mommy wars" on this one. Pelosi was indeed in her 40s before she ever ran for elective office, but she was very active in politics, even when she was a stay-at-home mom.

Now you have the photo-op of Speaker Boehner and Pres. Obama playing golf and what can you compare that to with Obama and Speaker Pelosi before the 2010 midterms? I'm not a sport fan yet I'm not upset with sports talk at the office or even the rec league folks organize. But something about the golfing picture of Boehner and Obama got under my skin. Remember there was that whole "Boys' Club" image that the Obama administration was fighting against . Makes me think there is something to it and I'm sorry, but Valerie Jarrett by herself and her vague job didn't satisfy me in the White House's answer. Pretty much shows the work culture that a lot of women dislike including this one.

I don't know if sports play into this directly, but I was struck by the fact that some of Pelosi's allies seem to believe that the White House--and the president--could have embraced her more closely and provided a more vigorous defense when she was under attack in the mid-term elections.

 

As George Miller--who most people regard as her closest adviser--put it:  "It was a wide-open season on her. ... Given her accomplishments and what she achieved, from the president on down, people could have done something."

Would the American people trust Obama, Pelosi and Reid to get the country back on track towards economic prosperity? I hope this is part of the political conversation in 2012.

I think you can pretty much guarantee that you are going to hear that question, or some version of it, on the lips of pretty much every Republican who is running for office next year.

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Karen Tumulty
Karen Tumulty is a national political reporter for The Washington Post.
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