Speaker Kaptur, Speaker Shuler, Speaker Lewis

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 5 2011 1:28 PM

Speaker Kaptur, Speaker Shuler, Speaker Lewis

Twenty Democrats did not vote for Nancy Pelosi in the "race" for Speaker of the House. (The scare quotes are there because the result was preordained.) ""With no viable alternative," says spokesman Will Crain, "Rep. Costa sent a message thatCongressional leadership needs to focus more attention on the needs and economyof the Central Valley." Eleven voted for North Carolina Rep. Heath Shuler, one for Rep. Jim Costa, one for Rep. Dennis Cardoza (those two traded votes), one for Rep. Steny Hoyer, one for Rep. Jim Cooper, and two for Rep. John Lewis. One Democrat voted "present," while Rep. Peter DeFazio, did not vote -- I noticed Pelosi looking around quizzically for him.

In November, 43 Democrats voted against Pelosi's bid for minority leader. In plenty of ways, 19-20 symbolic votes against her matter less. In another way, Democrats open the 112th Congress with plenty of quivering about how afraid they are of their leader, and how much they disagree with her. A historian can help me out, but I'm not aware of the last time a non-scandalized alternative candidate for speaker received so few votes. Costa's office explained that the congressman saw no "viable alternative" to Pelosi.

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Extra, irrelevant news: Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) was late for the vote, and his colleagues mocked him after he walked away from the table where he cast that late vote with cries of "Loooouie!"

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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