- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 2, 2001

Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California says she has locked up the race against Rep. Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland to become the new House Democratic whip.
Mrs. Pelosi said she has public and private commitments from at least 120 of her Democratic colleagues 108 are needed to win. She would become the first female whip for House Democrats.
But Mr. Hoyer says that the race is a tossup and that he has the support of 101 Democrats in his bid to replace Rep. David E. Bonior of Michigan, who is retiring to run for governor in 2002.
They are competing for a leadership post in a party that was struggling to find its voice even before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks persuaded most Democrats to tone down partisanship and rally around President Bush.
Asked by a reporter in mid-summer to answer the "softball question" of pinpointing House Democrats' biggest achievement this year, Mr. Hoyer replied, "What makes you think that's a softball question?"
He then added that Democrats' biggest victory to that point was the defection of Sen. James M. Jeffords of Vermont from the Republican Party, giving control of the Senate to the Democrats.
The second-ranking leadership post is traditionally used to count votes and keep Democrats in line. Both candidates said they also would use the position to help Democrats take back the House next year.
"I don't want to just count votes and persuade people," Mrs. Pelosi said. "The job of a leader is to win the majority. I have been a recognized winner as far as elections are concerned."
Mr. Hoyer counters that he has worked the past five years as the party's chief recruiter of candidates and that his swing district in Southern Maryland has exactly the kind of demography that Democrats need to win more consistently to take back the House.
"I'm largely perceived as a centrist," Mr. Hoyer said. "The party is going to decide if that's where they want to reach out to."
House Republicans hold a nine-seat edge over Democrats, 219 to 210. There are two independents and four vacancies. Five Democratic delegates including D.C.'s Eleanor Holmes Norton also get to vote in the whip contest, to be held Oct. 10.
The terrorist attacks have affected even this behind-the-scenes race as both candidates are calling attention to their experience on international issues. Mr. Hoyer chaired the Helsinki Commission from 1985 to 1995 and still serves as the ranking Democrat on the panel.
Mrs. Pelosi is touting her service as the ranking Democrat on the House Select Committee on Intelligence and on the House Appropriations foreign operations subcommittee.
Ideologically, there is not a great deal of difference between Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Hoyer.
The liberal American Civil Liberties Union gave both members a 100 percent rating in its most recent congressional scorecard; the conservative National Taxpayers Union gave both candidates a grade of "F" last year.
Mr. Hoyer is considered more of a fiscal conservative than Mrs. Pelosi he received a 47 percent rating from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce last year compared with 42 percent for Mrs. Pelosi.
On one of the few major votes in which they differed recently, Mr. Hoyer supported normal trade relations with China and Mrs. Pelosi opposed it.
On party building, Mr. Hoyer points to his record of raising money for Democratic candidates over 22 years in the House. Mrs. Pelosi, in her eighth term, increased her fund raising for fellow Democrats in the 1998-2000 election cycle, garnering about $4 million, according to her spokesman.
She has served as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's finance board and of the state Democratic Party.

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