Pelosi Withholds Her DCCC Pick

Posted November 10, 2010 at 2:17pm

Speaker Nancy Pelosi won’t announce her pick to helm the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee next cycle until after she’s secured support for her Minority Leader bid and brokered a deal between Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Md.) and Whip James Clyburn (S.C.) on the Minority Whip slot.

“The Speaker is very much about doing things sequentially,” one senior Democratic aide said. “Until the Leader has been decided by her Caucus, we just don’t jump that way.”

Another senior Democratic aide agreed, saying, “That’s not going to be settled until we elect our leadership.”

Still, the behind-the-scenes maneuvering to helm the DCCC next year is continuing between Reps. Steve Israel (N.Y.) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), the top contenders. Rep. Joe Crowley (N.Y.) had been considered one of the other Democrats in line for the position, but is not interested in the job, according to a source close to Crowley. DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) has said he is not interested in seeking the position for a third term.

Several Democratic aides and K Street sources said it appears Israel has an edge in getting the job.

And in case Pelosi wasn’t sure, Israel’s office went out of its way last week to make the Democratic leader look good.

Two days after the election, Israel’s chief of staff, Jack Pratt, sent an e-mail to the Democratic caucus with the subject line: “Pelosi delivered: The Democrats’ hold on the House didn’t last. Their landmark legislation will.”

The subject reflected the headline of an article posted Nov. 4 by Democratic strategist Bob Shrum on the website of The Week, a liberal magazine.

“Congressman Israel wanted to make sure that the Members of the Caucus saw this article,” Pratt wrote.

Israel is also backing Pelosi’s bid for Minority Leader.

Pratt did not respond to several requests for comment for this article. Wasserman Schultz spokesman Jonathan Beeton declined to comment.

Although Pelosi waited until mid-December to formally announce her pick for DCCC Chairman in 2006, the decision is usually made quickly after the election, according to sources familiar with previous chairman selections.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” one senior Democratic aide said. “I don’t think we can afford to go into the new year without knowing who the chairman is. The last four years they have taken the approach of getting started early.”

The aide noted that Van Hollen began holding candidate recruitment meetings in December 2008.

“We didn’t spend a lot of time celebrating our victories,” the aide said.

While they understand Pelosi’s need to focus on one thing at a time, several Democratic sources said time is of the essence.

“It’s going to be a really tough job, particularly with Pelosi in leadership,” one Democratic lobbyist said. “It will be hard to raise money and recruit candidates at the same time. We lost pretty much everybody we picked up in 2006 and 2004.”

Redistricting may also hamper DCCC recruitment efforts since it could take months before states finalize their plans.

While Israel is thought to be the DCCC frontrunner, several Democratic aides and K Streeters said not to count Wasserman Schultz out. While the Florida Democrat is not close with Pelosi, she does have support among other Caucus constituencies. Some of those constituencies would like to see another woman hold a high-profile leadership position in the Caucus, while others have said they’d like to see more opportunities for junior Members.

One key factor in Wasserman Schultz’s favor is her fundraising abilities. Wasserman Schultz bested Israel in her financial contributions to the party committee this cycle, according to the Oct. 19 DCCC dues sheet.

Wasserman Schultz contributed $350,000 in dues to the DCCC, $50,000 more than her goal. Israel, meanwhile, contributed $225,000 in dues to the committee, $25,000 more than his dues goal.

Wasserman Schultz also raised more money for the DCCC than Israel. She raised $4.6 million for the party committee and contributed or raised nearly $3.4 million to frontline members.

Israel raised $1.9 million for the DCCC, well above his $250,000 goal. Israel also contributed or raised $1.2 million for vulnerable Frontline program members.

Steve Peoples and Kathleen Hunter contributed to this report.