Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Thursday | July 03, 2003

Surprise, surprise. Pelosi earns everyone's respect

Contrary to glee from the GOP right, and consternation from the Democrat's DLC wing, Pelosi has proven an able leader of the Dems House caucus.

Colleagues credit Pelosi's political acumen in knitting together a caucus that runs the gamut from rural, pro-gun Southerners to Northeastern, inner-city supporters of abortion rights. In her first days as leader, while the country was preoccupied by the looming war in Iraq, Pelosi recast the Democratic hierarchy. She named women and minorities to top committees, elevated centrists to bolster Democratic credibility on national security and spread plum assignments to junior members [...]
Indeed, Pelosi has managed to unify the caucus to a degree never accomplished by Gephardt, but her biggest asset is her tireless work in drafting a unified party message.
''Never again will Democrats go into a campaign where the public doesn't know who we are and what we stand for,'' she says.
But here's where I really start paying attention"
Pelosi won't concede defeat in next year's election. But she speaks of a four-year plan to ''win and hold'' the House by gaining the 12 seats Democrats need to make her speaker. Matsui says the party plans to target 45 seats.

Democrats' mail-in contributions have soared 40% since Pelosi's signature began appearing on fundraising letters, and the number of new donors has more than doubled. Pelosi travels constantly and was the force behind most of the $14.4 million Democrats collected in the first half of this year. Though a pittance compared with the $22.1 million that Republicans raised in just the first five months, Pelosi says ''We'll have enough'' in 2004 to narrow -- if not eliminate -- the GOP's 229-seat majority.

"Nancy Pelosi is a prolific fundraiser," says Rep. Tom Reynolds, R-N.Y., who heads the House Republicans' political operation. ''She's very good at it."

Redistricting has made it very difficult to retake the House next year, and the task will be much harder of GOP redistricting efforts in TX, CO, and GA make headway.

But it's not impossible. 2004 will be a referendum election. If the war continues to go poorly and if the economy continues to suffer (unemployment has now reached a 9-year high), then lord help GOP congresscritters from the wrath of their constituents. A solid and unified Democratic Party message will go far in making the impossible -- Speaker of the House Pelosi -- a possibility.

Posted July 03, 2003 02:51 PM


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