WASHINGTON — Former House speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday she will run to keep her job as the Democratic leader in the House after a pair of elections that kept the party in the minority there even as Democrats gained seats in the Senate and a second term for President Barack Obama.
"My colleagues made it very clear: 'Don't even think of leaving,' " she recalled at a news conference, surrounded by women lawmakers. "I have made a decision to submit my name to my colleagues to once again serve as the House Democratic leader."
"There is no better person to preside over the most liberal House Democratic caucus in history than the woman who is solely responsible for relegating it to a prolonged minority status," said Paul Lindsay, spokesman for the National Republican Campaign Committee.
"This decision signals that House Democrats have absolutely no interest in regaining the trust and confidence of the American people who took the speaker's gavel away from Nancy Pelosi in the first place," he said.
The announcement was one of several throughout the day that would give more clarity to the leadership and direction of the next Congress, led by majority Republicans in the House and Democrats in the Senate. Voters in last week's elections gave Obama a second term, added two seats to the Senate Democratic majority and as many as eight to Pelosi's caucus in the House.
As in the House, the Senate retains its top leaders: Nevada Democrat Harry Reid and Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell. Republicans elected Texas Sen. John Cornyn the vote-wrangling whip, South Dakota Sen. John Thune the GOP conference chairman, Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso policy committee chairman and Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the party's campaign arm.
Majority Democrats reelected the much the same leadership slate: Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin remains whip, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York remains policy committee chairman. But Washington Sen. Patty Murray will serve as secretary, leaving open the chairmanship of the Democrats' campaign committee. Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet was said by Democratic officials to be a leading contender for that spot.
Another question answered about the makeup of the next Congress: Newly-elected Sen. Angus King, Maine Independent, announced that he will caucus with Democrats next year.
House Republican Leadership elections were set for later Wednesday.
Pelosi put off her caucus' leadership elections off until after Thanksgiving.
Pelosi, 72, has represented a San Francisco area district in the House for a quarter century, including a stint as the first woman in history to serve as speaker. The tea party-fueled political wave of 2010 forced the gavel from her hand to Ohio Republican Rep. John Boehner's.
Holding a news conference Wednesday morning, Pelosi said "we're very, very proud" of how large a role women played in the Nov. 6 election.
"We don't have the gavel" of majority status in the House, she said, "but we have unity."
"Being actively involved in politics at this level is really insatiable," Pelosi told reporters. "There's so much more I want to do, I don't know how to get any more hours in the day. You can only sleep so less."
Pelosi was a major force behind the passage of Obama's health care overhaul and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Even after the 2010 elections, when her party lost 63 seats, Pelosi was reelected Democratic leader by her caucus.
Pelosi's colleagues had said for days that the top leadership post was hers if she wanted it in the next Congress that begins in January. She refused to reveal her plans for a week after the Nov. 6 elections failed to give Democrats gain they wanted.
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