House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will remain as the House Democratic leader, ending speculation that she might retire at the age of 72.
Pelosi made the announcement Wednesday morning after a caucus with the U.S. House Democrats. She appeared at a news conference that was televised live on CNN and MSNBC as some insiders had remained unsure of her intentions until this morning. Her decision is important to the future of U.S. Rep. John B. Larson of East Hartford, who is facing a term limit in his position as the fourth-ranking member of the House Democratic caucus.
Larson held a highly influential position that had been held previously by Democratic stalwarts like Rahm Emanuel, James Clyburn, Robert Menendez, Steny Hoyer, Dick Gephardt, and Dan Rostenkowski.
Pelosi is close to Larson and came several times to major fundraisers for the DCCC at an upscale restaurant atop the Hartford Steam Boiler tower in downtown Hartford, overlooking the Connecticut River. Some of her trips were extremely low key – with no advance notice to the press. The most recent was in late September with a maximum price-tag of more than $30,000. Pelosi avoided protestors at the same location back in 2009 as they gathered outside the tower’s parking garage.
Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, will keep his spot as the No. 2 leader in the caucus, while Clyburn, of South Carolina, will keep the No. 3 spot. Larson is being replaced by Rep. Xavier Becerra, an up-and-comer from California. Importantly, Rep. Steve Israel of Dix Hills, Long Island will remain as the head of the DCCC, which showed gains this year as the Republicans still maintained their majority in the House.
Pelosi, a longtime leader from San Francisco, appeared Wednesday with dozens of House Democratic women standing behind her at the news conference in Washington, D.C.
“A picture is worth 1,000 words,” Pelosi told reporters. “This picture before you is worth millions of votes – millions of women’s votes that it took to elect Barack Obama. … As you look forward, you are looking into the future.”
At one point, Pelosi flubbed her words.
“We don’t have the majority, but we have the gavel,” Pelosi said as some of those around her seemed perplexed. “Excuse me. We don’t have the gavel.”
When Pelosi came to Washington 25 years ago, there were only 23 women out of 435 members in the U.S. House. That included 12 Democrats and 11 Republicans, she said.
Now, there are more than 60 House Democratic women.
“Not enough,” Pelosi said. “We want more.”
At the same time, she noted that fewer than 20 of the Fortune 500 CEOs are women.