Democrats handed putative Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) an humbling loss this morning. Spurning her endorsement letter, telephone calls and personal entreaties to support Jack Murtha (D-PA), they elected his opponent Steny Hoyer (D-MD) with an overwhelming vote of 149 to 86. In Pelosi's first public attempt to influence her colleagues in her new leadership role, she futilely tried to depose her rival Hoyer, the number two Democrat in the House, for her man Murtha. (In 2001, Murtha had run Pelosi's successful campaign against Hoyer for House Minority Whip.) Murtha has been dogged by ethical problems since his taped role in the Abscam scandal through his earmarks favoring KSA Consulting, a company which featured his brother Kit as a senior partner until his retirement this summer. His defeated can be attributed in no small part to the many liberals, conservatives, and good government advocates who view Murtha as an ethically challenged Congressman and as a politician at home in a "culture of corruption." Now will Pelosi still elevate Alcee Hastings (D-FL) to the chairmanship of the House intelligence committee? (Hastings is the federal judge who was impeached by a Democratic House on bribery charges.
Cf. http://www.opinionjournal.com/diary/?id=110009248; http://www.rollcall.com/issues/1_1/breakingnews/15974-1.html; Fox News Live (10:58 a.m CT); and http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/15/AR2006111501339.html.