On Tuesday, Congressman Charles Rangel assured me that the leadership battle among House Democrats–with Reps. Steny Hoyer and James Clyburn both vying to be Minority Whip–wouldn’t actually come to a vote.
“It’s not going to come to a vote. We can’t afford a vote,” he said.
“To me it’s like musical chairs, where they just move the damn chair away,” Rangel said of the squabble, which was caused by Democrats losing one leadership position (Speaker of the House) as they move from the majority to the minority. “If I had my druthers, I’d just put another chair up there. What the hell?”
And, on Friday, Nancy Pelosi announced she would do just that, offering Clyburn a newly-created position as “assistant leader.”
Hoyer was thought to be the clear leader–and led handily among the New York members who expressed a preference–but Clyburn is a senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus, and squeezing him out of the leadership stood to upset some members.
(Republicans made a similar move last week when they added a new freshman leader position to satisfy the multitude of new members joining the caucus in January.)
Pelosi’s decision seems to pave the way for Long Island Congressman Steve Israel to take the reins of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, after there was talk of offering either Hoyer or, more likely, Clyburn the DCCC as a consolation prize.