About two months before the fall elections, I received a review copy of Rochelle Schweizer’s biography of the outgoing House Speaker, She’s the Boss: The Disturbing Truth About Nancy Pelosi. I tried to finish it before those elections as I thought it would likely be remaindered soon after, but other obligations got in the way. One thing which came clear as I read about the rise of the San Francisco Democrat was just how ruthless she can be, how determined she was as she climbed the political ladder and how much control she exercised over her caucus.
She did manage to push some pretty controversial votes through the House when she wielded the gavel. But, with her party’s loss of over 60 seats earlier that month, her power is waning. She will never again rule her caucus with the iron fist she exercised for the better part of the current Congress.
Yesterday, she did not receive the unanimous vote of that caucus in its leadership elections. As Jonathan Allen and John Bresnaham wrote in Politico:
But the 43 votes against her reveal that a divided caucus — still reeling from the loss of at least 61 seats — will not be as pliable for the California Democrat as it once was.
There will be more votes in coming days on limiting Pelosi’s control of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Rules and Steering committees, but she is expected to win those fights, too. And there may be tough policy votes ahead in the new Congress, as House Republicans try to lure the anti-Pelosi forces to their side on key issues.
I daresay Minority Leader Pelosi won’t be able to hold her caucus together in the 112th Congress as she did in the 111th. Those moderates who survived, but just barely, will want to avoid the fate of their colleagues who, through no choice of their own, won’t be returning to Capitol Hill next January.