The Washington Times - January 5, 2011, 05:33PM

When Rep. Nancy Pelosi lost 19 Democrats on Wednesday’s vote to be House speaker, it marked the worst showing for a party’s nominee in more than 80 years.

Mrs. Pelosi won the support of 173 Democrats, but 18 others voted for someone else and one voted “present.” Rep. John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, won the vote with the support of all 241 Republicans who voted.


According to figures from the House historian’s office and the Congressional Research Service, the last time a party’s nominee for speaker lost that much support was in 1923. On the first ballot that year the GOP’s nominee, Frederick H. Gillett, saw 23 lawmakers support other Republicans. Mr. Gillett still ended up winning the speakership on the ninth ballot.

Rep. Heath Shuler, North Carolina Democrat, garnered 11 votes on Wednesday, and afterward said it was an effort to forge a middle ground between Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Boehner.

Speaker’s elections always pit the leaders of the House Republican Conference against the House Democratic Caucus, and from 1945 through 1995 those were the only two candidates to receive any votes.

In four of the seven speaker’s elections since then, other candidates have received votes — most often from conservative Democrats seeking to register disapproval with their party’s direction.