House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) must be gnashing his teeth that he lost his bid for the job he now has to Nancy Pelosi in October 2001. Had he been elected Whip that year, he would likely have succeeded Richard Gephardt as House Minority Leader in 2002 and would be the face of House Democrats today. With Hoyer at the helm, Democrats would be in a far better position to win a majority in the House this fall.
With a Gallup poll showing Republicans closing the gap (from an 11-point deficit to just 2 points) in the “generic Congressional ballot” and with the recent AP poll that Bruce cited earlier today, it’s far from clear that a Democratic takeover of Congress in the offing for this fall.
As Bruce noted, most Americans have yet to focus on the fall Elections. When they look at the Democrats, not only will they see their local candidates, but they will also see House Minority Leader Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Reid, both who have used their positions to obstruct the president’s agenda. They never seem to miss an opportunity to criticize the president.
In the fall, that opposition may not be enough to sway enough voters to their side. Most Americans prefer congressional leaders who do more than oppose the president, but actually put forward policies to help address the nation’s problems. While the Republicans have been far from perfect, they have at least put forward some legislation. Which the Democrats have obstructed.
Perhaps had the Democrats had leaders who were not so obsessed with the president, individuals willing to compromise with the GOP on a variety of initiatives, they might stand a better chance of winning control of Congress this fall. Such leadership would show that the Democrats are interested in governing. With Steny Hoyer at their helm, they would have a leader who, while critical of the president, has at least said publicly “He is the president of the United States, and he deserves some respect.”