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Nancy Pelosi is running for House Democratic leader. Is that a mistake?

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Alex Brandon/AP

(Read caption) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., takes the stage to speak to supporters at an election night party in Washington, on Nov. 2.

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Nancy Pelosi says she wants to stay on as the leader of House Democrats. Is that a mistake?

It’s a question that has to be asked. After all, as speaker, Representative Pelosi presided over an historic electoral disaster for her party. Democrats lost a thumping 60 seats and their House majority. Because of this Pelosi in essence is applying for a lower-level position after her previous job was eliminated. She’d be House minority leader in the next Congress – a big demotion from speaker.

Her continued presence might split her own party. Many moderate House Democrats likely would prefer their next leader to be the current No. 2 in the party hierarchy, Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, instead of the more liberal Pelosi. Even a few liberals might gripe. The left wing of the party has accused Pelosi of not pushing hard enough for such progressive goals as a public option in the health-care reform legislation.

Plus, she’ll provide a convenient target for Republicans. “Fire Pelosi” was a catchphrase the GOP used to help nationalize many individual House races. Now Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, will get to craft new attack slogans that contain her well-known name.

Steele applauded when told of Pelosi’s intentions.

“My breath is taken away by that announcement,” he said, grinning, according to the Associated Press.

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