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House Democrats, Republicans Set to Choose Leadership

U.S. Capitol

A worker performs maintenance on the dome of the Capitol earlier this week. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

House Democrats and Republicans plan Wednesday to choose their leaders for the 112th Congress, with the results likely to reveal both parties’ response to the midterms elections that saw the GOP make historic gains.

As the Democrats shuffle out of the way for the new Republican majority in the House, they will decide who will fill the positions of minority leader, minority whip and assistant leader for the party. Republicans will choose the next speaker of the House and the lieutenants to that position.

Republicans are expected to name current Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio as speaker, while Democrats are expected to elect outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi as the minority leader. Many members of the caucus still support Pelosi despite the fact that she presided over the loss of at least 60 House seats in the Nov. 2 election.

Boehner doesn’t have a serious challenger to his position. Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor will likely become majority leader.

Pelosi faces a challenge from conservative Blue Dog Democrat Heath Shuler of North Carolina.

According to NPR, the Congressional Black Caucus is also threatening to oppose Pelosi’s bid for party leader — or her leadership team — if the California Democrat cannot assure the lawmakers that South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn will be given a position of real authority in the next Congress.

Clyburn, the current majority whip, agreed to accept a new number three position created by Pelosi in exchange for not running against current Majority Leader Steny Hoyer for minority whip.

During more than three hours of a private caucus meeting Tuesday at the Capitol, House Democrats met to discuss the party elections, among other topics.

As New Jersey Rep. Robert Andrews left the meeting he predicted Pelosi would succeed in her re-election effort as leader of the party.

Andrews said that in the meeting Pelosi rebutted challenges to her leadership.

“She recounted how we got to the majority in the first place. She took over a caucus that had lost five consecutive elections, and at a time when people thought we’d never win again she brought us to two victories. That was well received by the caucus,” Andrews said.

Shuler, a former quarterback for the Washington Redskins, told the Washington Post that he confronted Pelosi in person to tell her that she was not the right person to lead the party.

“When I played in the NFL, and you lost significantly, you were replaced, and I had that conversation direct with her,” said Shuler.

PLUS ONE

Republican Joe Walsh had traveled to Washington for freshmen orientation despite the fact his race against Democratic Rep. Melissa Bean, D-Ill., was one of the handful of races still outstanding.

Now, he knows he’ll get to put all he’s learned in those training sessions to use in the 112th Congress.

Bean, a three-term Democrat, conceded the race for 8th district congressional race Tuesday night, after the counting of absentee and provisional ballots showed her trailing Walsh by 290 votes out of the nearly 200,000 that were cast.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Walsh, a Tea Party-backed candidate, was “ecstatic” to hold onto the win.

Walsh’s victory returns the seat to Republicans, who had controlled the district for more than three decades prior to Bean’s election six years ago.

ALMOST THERE IN ALASKA

With all the write-in ballots now counted in the Alaska Senate race, it appears Sen. Lisa Murkowski has surged to an unbeatable lead over Republican Joe Miller. But Miller is not throwing in the towel just yet.

According to the Anchorage Daily News, Miller’s campaign wants a hand recount of the more than 255,000 votes cast in the Senate election.

At the end of Tuesday’s counting, the Division of Elections had counted 100,868 votes for Murkowski — 10,400 more than those tallied for Miller. (Murkowski would still hold a lead of more than 2,000 votes if election officials were to toss out the ballots challenged by Miller’s campaign but still awarded to Murkowski.)

The only votes left to be counted are some 600 absentee ballots from military and overseas addresses, which the state will examine Wednesday. The Daily News notes that Murkowski is expected to fly from Washington to Alaska on Wednesday and claim victory once those ballots are counted.

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