As US lawmakers prepare to elect their party leaders for the next two years, all eyes are on Nancy Pelosi.
If she decides to stay on as minority leader of the US House of Representatives, the California Democrat would have the votes to do that. The chamber’s Democratic leadership would be mostly unchanged, with the top contest being for the fifth-ranking slot.
If she decides to give up her position, it will set off the biggest House Democratic leadership shuffle since 2003, when Pelosi took over from Dick Gephardt of Missouri.
Although Republicans lost seats in both chambers, rank-and-file lawmakers had shown no signs of wanting to kick out House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky or House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, whose jobs were up for an internal vote yesterday.
The top contest among House Republicans would be for the fourth-ranking job, conference chairman. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington is running against Tom Price of Georgia.
Rodgers is the only woman in the Republican leadership. Price, backed by former vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and current conference chairman Jeb Hensarling of Texas, is trying to run as a more conservative alternative.
If Price wins, there still would be one woman in the leadership because Martha Roby of Alabama is running for vice chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, facing off against Lynn Jenkins of Kansas.
In the Senate, Republican John Cornyn of Texas is not being opposed for the No. 2 job, minority whip.
Kansas Republican Jerry Moran is the only announced candidate for chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Marco Rubio of Florida and Rob Portman of Ohio, whose names had been floated for the job, passed on running, according to Republican aides.
Among Senate Democrats, Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, and second and third-ranking leaders Dick Durbin of Illinois and Chuck Schumer of New York, are unopposed to keep their positions.
Pelosi did not tip her hand while meeting incoming House freshmen on Tuesday, one of them said.
“Absolutely nobody knows what she’s going to do,” said Rick Nolan, a Minnesota Democrat returning to the House in January after being out of office for more than 30 years.
Nolan, who was in the House from 1975 to 1981, said he talked with several lawmakers he served with then and they could not predict Pelosi’s decision either.
“It’s not like we didn’t ask,” US representative-elect Dan Kildee of Michigan said. “If she wants to stay, I think Nancy’s been a good leader.”