On the 10-year anniversary of being elected the nation’s first female minority leader in the House of Representatives, California Democrat Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday said she would like to remain on as the top Democrat in the House.
Pelosi, flanked by the women of the Democratic Caucus, dedicated her speech almost entirely to women and paid homage to the female resurgence taking place in Congress after an election season of sustained focus on women’s issues.
“We must have the further empowerment of women,” Pelosi said. “When women came to the polls last week, they registered their support for those who understood the challenges that women face.”
Speculation stirred this week over whether the 72-year-old veteran of Congress would choose to leave her leadership position. Prior to Pelosi’s announcement, MSNBC’s own Rachel Maddow said it would be “a cold day in hell” before Pelosi would willingly step aside. Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, said she would be “surprised” if Pelosi gave up the position.
Pelosi’s decade-long reign over the Democratic Caucus reached a pinnacle when she claimed the House Speaker’s gavel in 2006, making her the first woman to be within two heartbeats of the presidency. Her leadership has been anything but predictable, even after the wave of Tea Party freshmen in 2010 ousted her from the speaker’s helm.
While some race results from Election Day are still out, Democrats are chipping away at the Republican majority and are expected to pick up an additional seven seats in the House.
“We do not have the gavel, we do not have the majority, but we have unity,” Pelosi said, after mistakenly commenting that the speaker’s gavel was in the hands of Democrats.
Prior to notifying the public, Pelosi met with the Democratic Caucus, including incoming freshman, on Wednesday to say she will happily stay on as their leader if chosen, which is all but certain.
“The message is clear from the American people,” Pelosi said to the Democratic Caucus before the press conference. “They want us to work together to get things done.”
Elections for leadership position within the Democratic Caucus are scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 29.