Pelosi decision splits Dems

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr., D-Albany, said Wednesday that it is time for Democrats to seek a new face for the party.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently announced plans to seek the House Minority Leadership position despite crushing defeats by Democrats in the midterm elections.

"I have nothing against Speaker Pelosi; she has worked tirelessly to bring Democrats together," Bishop said. "But given the fact that we suffered substantial losses in the election, I think a new face is needed for leadership of the Democratic Caucus. I am part of a group looking for an alternative.

"I've had a number of my constituents and supporters ask me to help change the face of the party, and I am listening to my constituents."

Bishop, who was re-elected Nov. 2 to a 10th term in Congress, had to survive a grueling battle against Republican Mike Keown for the District 2 seat, winning by slightly less than 5,000 votes.

Bishop said he was unsure who he would support for Minority Leader.

"I was expecting (Majority) Leader (Steny) Hoyer to run but have heard he will not," Bishop said. "I don't know who I will support. I'm going to see how things shake out and see who else is running."

Bishop added that he had spoken with Pelosi last week and that she had asked him where he stood in her running for the Minority Leadership position.

"I did have a conversation with the Speaker in that regard," Bishop said. "I told her the same thing I told you earlier."

The New York Times published an editorial Monday questioning the wisdom of Pelosi's decision.

"What they (Democrats) need is what Ms. Pelosi has been unable to provide: a clear and convincing voice to help Americans understand that Democratic policies are not bankrupting the country, advancing socialism or destroying freedom," The Times wrote.

Several moderate Democrats such as U.S. Rep. Heath Schuler of North Carolina, U.S. Rep. Dan Borden of Oklahoma and U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson of Utah have gone on record saying they would not support Pelosi.

Schuler went so far as to say he would run against Pelosi if a "viable alternative" did not come forward.

Rep. Jim Marshall, D-Macon, who lost his 8th District seat to Austin Scott, said he was expecting Pelosi's decision.

"I'm not surprised at her decision; it was always a possibility," Marshall said. "But how I feel about it doesn't matter because it is no longer up to me. The Democratic Caucus will have to decide what is the right thing to do.

"I will say that I think there are many in the Caucus that think they need to make a change."

Bishop said Congress is scheduled to reconvene on Nov. 15, and the new Democratic minority will vote on its leader soon after.

District 12 State Senator Freddie Powell Sims, D-Dawson, was more blunt in her assessment of the situation.

"I'm not surprised (by Pelosi's decision), it happens all the time," Sims said. "It seems to work that way in the political arena. Once a person reaches a position of power, he or she is reluctant to give it up. They really don't consider what the people want.

"She was made to be the reason the Democrats lost the House last week. No good can come from this decision. I hope she doesn't continue to push forward with it."