Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have chosen John Boehner of Ohio to be their leader when Republicans take over the majority of the U.S. House of Representatives in January. Current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defeated a challenge to her top leadership position in the Democratic caucus.
As expected, House Republicans were united in choosing John Boehner as their leader on his 61st birthday. He is now likely to become the next Speaker of the House in a vote in early January. They chose Eric Cantor of Virginia to be their new Majority leader and Kevin McCarthy of California to be Majority Whip.
On the Democratic side, current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California faced opposition from several vocal critics after presiding over a historic loss of more than 60 Democratic seats in the House in elections earlier this month. First there was a vote to postpone the Democratic leadership elections to allow time for the party to regroup after a stinging electoral defeat, which was defeated by a vote of 129 to 68. Then she faced a challenge for the top position from moderate North Carolina Democrat Heath Schuler.
A defiant Pelosi finally emerged to speak to reporters after winning the vote for the top leadership post in her Democratic caucus by a vote of 150-43. Pelosi was asked if she was the right person to lead Democrats considering her very low approval ratings in public opinion polls. "How would your ratings be if $75 million were spent against you. Because I am an effective leader, because we got the job done on health care, Wall Street reform and consumer protections, the list goes on."
Republican candidates often demonized Pelosi in their political advertisements, portraying her as a San Francisco liberal who is out of touch with average Americans.
Pelosi said she has proven that she is the person who can both attract intellectual resources and cash for Democrats running for office.
Earlier, Congressman Heath Schuler argued that Democrats need to listen to American voters and move more to the political center and be more fiscally responsible. He said he knew he did not have the votes to win, but wanted to make a statement. "But it wasn't about winning or losing this race, it was about truly making a difference within our caucus. To insure that the moderates are heard within the caucus, and that we have a seat at the table," he said.
A new Congress takes office in January, with a smaller Democratic Party majority in the Senate and a new Republican majority in the House of Representatives.
Political analyst Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia says Democratic Senate Majority leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Pelosi have managed to hold onto their leadership positions - although they proved to be a millstone around many Democratic candidates necks. "So these two unpopular Democratic leaders are still going to be front and center. Moderate Democrats can't be happy," he said.
House Republicans will hold a news conference to officially introduce their news leaders on Thursday. They are also likely to discuss their priorities for the new Congress, including passing tax cuts and cutting government spending. A meeting of congressional leaders planned for Thursday at the White House with President Barack Obama has been postponed until November 30.