- - Wednesday, November 3, 2010

HOUSE

Pelosi mulls political future

Democrat Nancy Pelosi, the first female speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, said Wednesday she had not decided what to do after Republicans take over the chamber in January, ending her four-year tenure.

“I’ll have a conversation with my caucus, I’ll have a conversation with my family, and pray over it, and decide how to go forward,” Mrs. Pelosi said in an interview on ABC’s “World News.” “But today isn’t that day.”

In a sweeping victory Tuesday, Republicans won back control of the House from President Obama’s Democrats. Right up until the elections, Mrs. Pelosi had expressed confidence the Democrats would keep their majority in the House.

As the senior figure in the chamber, Mrs. Pelosi, 70, is second in line to the presidency and the highest-ranking woman in U.S. political history.

Re-elected in her California district to a two-year term Tuesday, she could remain in the House and even seek to stay in the Democratic leadership, perhaps as minority leader. She could also retire.

A senior Democratic aide said the party would be surprised if she decided to stay in leadership and she could even face opposition.

“But it is her call and no one is going to rush her,” the aide said.

ELECTION

Voter turnout up from 2006

Spurred by anger over the recession and closely contested races in several large states, Americans voted in higher numbers than in midterm elections four years ago.

With more than 95 percent of precincts reporting, election data indicate that turnout Tuesday was up in at least nine states, including significant increases in Florida, Minnesota and Texas. Turnout appeared to be down slightly in several other states, including Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Overall, turnout in the midterm elections was projected at 42 percent of registered voters, about 1.2 percentage points higher than in 2006.

The total popular vote nationwide was expected to reach about 90 million people, 6.2 million more than voted in 2006. About 131.1 million people voted in 2008. Turnout is higher for a presidential election than for midterm contests.

Curtis Gans, director of the Center for the Study of the American Electorate at American University, said competitive races featuring “tea party”-backed candidates drew high voter turnout in Florida, South Carolina, Delaware and other states, with mixed results.

CONNECTICUT

Cost figured in ballot shortage

BRIDGEPORT | The Democratic registrar of voters in Connecticut’s largest city says her office didn’t order enough ballots for Tuesday’s election in part because of the cost.

Sandy Ayala told the Associated Press on Wednesday that past assumptions of a 65 percent voter turnout in Bridgeport had led to many unused ballots and, “They cost a lot of money.”

Miss Ayala could not say how many ballots were ordered. Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz says 21,000 ballots were ordered for the city’s 69,000 registered voters.

Many polling places ran out, and a judge ordered 12 of them to stay open two hours late after more ballots were brought in.

Miss Bysiewicz says about 500 people took advantage of the extra time.

STATE

U.S. denounces rebel group

The State Department named a Sunni militant group in Iran to a U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations on Wednesday, a move likely to be welcomed by Tehran just weeks before the resumption of talks over its disputed nuclear program.

A State Department spokesman said adding the Jundallah organization to a terrorist list that contains just 46 others including al Qaeda, the Iranian-backed Hezbollah and the Pakistani Taliban was not intended as a conciliatory gesture.

But some experts said the timing could still help smooth relations in advance of a new round of negotiations over Iran’s uranium-enrichment program, the central source of tension between Tehran and Washington. Those talks are expected to resume before the end of this month.

Iran insists the program is part of its effort to develop a peaceful civilian nuclear industry, while the U.S. and other nations suspect that Tehran is moving toward building nuclear weapons.

Jundallah, or Soldiers of God, says it is fighting for the rights of the Sunni minority in predominantly Shiite Iran; the Iranian leadership calls it a terrorist group bent on destabilizing the government.

CALIFORNIA

Brown faces daunting task

OAKLAND | Jerry Brown, who is returning to an office he held more than a generation ago, says the job facing him as California’s next governor is daunting but one he is equipped to handle.

At a press conference Wednesday, the former two-term governor said it will be difficult to pull the state out of its deep financial hole.

His first order of business will be to meet with legislative leaders of both parties on Thursday in Sacramento to begin budget discussions.

When he is sworn in to replace Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in January, Mr. Brown will face a budget deficit estimated at $12 billion, a polarized Legislature and a state still reeling from high unemployment.

Despite the hurdles, Mr. Brown says he is optimistic because “California has always come back.”

HOUSE

Pence to leave leadership post

A top House Republican who’s been considering a possible bid for the White House announced Wednesday that he’s stepping down from the House GOP leadership team.

Indiana Rep. Mike Pence who’s made multiple trips to states that host early presidential primary contests alluded to a potential presidential bid in a statement he issued to his colleagues announcing he will step down as GOP conference chairman.

Mr. Pence was recruited for the leadership post two years ago by Speaker-to-be John A. Boehner of Ohio. Reps. Jeb Hensarling of Texas and Michele Bachmann of Minnesota immediately announced bids for the post, and others, such as Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, are weighing the idea.

Mr. Pence said he’s considering “new opportunities to serve Indiana and our nation in the years ahead,” adding: “I have come to realize that it may not be possible to complete an entire term as conference chairman. As such, I think it would be more appropriate for me to step aside now.”

The conference chair position is the No. 3 GOP leadership slot but would become the No. 4 GOP post when Republicans take over in January.


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