- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 11, 2001

Democrats yesterday elected Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California to become minority whip, making her the highest-ranking woman ever in Congress.
Mrs. Pelosi defeated Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, in secret balloting, 118-95. She will replace Rep. David E. Bonior of Michigan, who is retiring to run for governor, on Jan. 15 as the top lieutenant of Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt.
House Republicans, however, privately were pleased with her election. When word of Mrs. Pelosi's win reached a closed meeting of House Republicans yesterday morning, lawmakers applauded. House Majority Whip Tom DeLay was heard to say yesterday that he believed Mr. Hoyer would have been a "formidable opponent."
Some Democrats worried aloud that Mrs. Pelosi will take their party too far to the left.
"It's reflective of where the Democratic Party still is and where it will remain a liberal minority," said Rep. James P. Moran, Virginia Democrat. "The country is much less liberal than the Democratic caucus is. Dave [Bonior] was to the left and Nancy [Pelosi] is a little more to the left."
Mrs. Pelosi, 61, in her eighth term from San Francisco, denied that she will push her party in a more liberal direction.
"I don't know if they're worried about that," she said of her fellow Democrats. "I'm a non-menacing, progressive Democrat."
Mrs. Pelosi campaigned in part on her ability to raise money for Democratic candidates. Her spokesman said she raised more than $4 million for Democrats in the 1998-2000 election cycle.
The whip's job includes persuading the rank-and-file to vote with the leadership.
"This is difficult turf to win on, for anyone, but for a woman breaking ground here it was a tough battle and we made history," Mrs. Pelosi said. "Women on the outside will see someone with whom they can identify."
Mr. Hoyer, a 22-year House veteran, pledged his continued support for the Democratic leadership.
"I will continue to work very hard on behalf of my district, my state and my nation and in that process will support Nancy Pelosi in her new role," Mr. Hoyer said. "She has been my friend for almost forty years and I am confident that she will do an outstanding job as our whip."
Mr. Moran said electing Mr. Hoyer "would have given the Democrats more credibility in the areas of fiscal responsibility, defense, foreign policy and trade."
Mrs. Pelosi voted against the balanced-budget agreement in 1997 and against normalizing trade relations with China.
Mrs. Pelosi comes from a family steeped in politics. Her father, Thomas D'Alessandro Jr., was mayor of Baltimore for 12 years and represented the city in Congress for 10 years. Her brother, Thomas D'Alessandro III, also served as the mayor of Baltimore.
She graduated from Trinity College in Washington. Mrs. Pelosi and her husband, Paul Pelosi, have lived in California for much of their lives. They have five children and five grandchildren.
From 1976 until 1996, she served as a Democratic National Committee member from California. In 1986, she became the finance chairman of the Democratic U.S. Senatorial Committee.
The following year, Mrs. Pelosi was elected to Congress.
Rep. John Conyers Jr., Michigan Democrat, said Mrs. Pelosi worked hard for the whip position.
"Pelosi really is the new direction," Mr. Conyers said. "Let's face it, women are under-represented in the Congress. Pelosi is breaking the glass ceiling."
Of the 431 members in the House (excluding vacancies), 62 are women 44 Democrats and 18 Republicans. Thirteen of 100 senators are women.
Despite her election to what is considered a highly partisan post, Mrs. Pelosi said she intends to keep her seat as the top Democrat on the House Select Committee on Intelligence, which strives to be nonpartisan as it handles national security issues.
"We don't operate in a partisan way on the Intelligence Committee and that will not change," she said.
Intelligence Committee Chairman Porter J. Goss, Florida Republican, said he is not worried about her continued service on the panel.
"I have no doubt she knows when it's time to be partisan and when it's not," Mr. Goss said.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide