What Hoyer (149)-Murtha (86) Means for Pelosi

It is really no surprise that John Murtha, Nancy Pelosi’s favored candidate for House Majority leader, John Murtha, was thumped in this morning’s vote by Maryland’s Steny Hoyer.

What was surprising was how much political capital Pelosi, the incoming Speaker, had invested on Murtha’s behalf in the last two days, considering the almost obvious futility of his effort from the outset.

The question now is whether there will be repercussions for Pelosi.

Had she simply announced her preference for Murtha and stood on the sidelines, Hoyer’s win would mean nothing.
But by turning up the heat on her fellow Democrats only to lose lopsidedly, Pelosi may have empowered Hoyer, her longtime foe. Should some similar impasse occur in the future – whether over a leadership position or an actual policy item – Hoyer may have considerably more standing in convincing members that it’s okay to stick with him against the Speaker.

Pelosi has spent the last three years very effectively marginalizing Hoyer’s clout. But before Pelosi entered the fray this week, it did not appear that Hoyer would be a particularly strong Majority Leader. That’s probably no longer the case.

– Steve Kornacki