Washington Prowler

Chair Personnel

Nancy to select committee heads early. Also: Warner's successors.

By 10.23.06

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HEAD START
Democrat Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi has already been hearing from some of her caucus members that she has to begin thinking about the leadership positions should she ascend to the Speakership after November 7.

"The assumption is that [Minority Whip] Steny [Hoyer] would be [majority] leader," says a House leadership aide. "But now they are looking at committee chairmanships, and we have issues there."

According to several leadership aides, Pelosi's advisers are prepared to recommend that Rep. John Conyers, who is in line to become House Judiciary chairman, not be given that job, and instead that Pelosi emulate a Republican House policy of not allowing seniority to be the sole determinant of leadership positions for the majority.

In the past, House GOP leaders Newt Gingrich, Dick Armey and Tom DeLay were known to give committee chairmanship slots to loyalists rather than simply to the most senior member on the committee.

Another senior Democrat House member in line for a chairmanship: Rep. John Dingell. Most chairmanships would not be slotted until well after the November 7 elections, but Pelosi advisers are pressing her to have some decisions made quickly to keep up the momentum from what they believe will be a pick up of more than 20 seats across the country.

"We want the base to be engaged, and if we can trot out good news to the troops week after week from November through January, we'll be in a great position to make some political headway," says another leadership adviser.

HILLARY MUST BE SHAKING IN HER BOOTS
Look for New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson some time after Thanksgiving to formalize initial plans to run for President.

Richardson has been playing a pivotal role in the Democrat Governor's Association and fundraising on behalf of those Democrat gubernatorial candidates for months. He has also been sticking his nose consistently into foreign policy issues, particularly North Korea's nuclear testing, a mess he helped create during his time served in the Clinton Administration.

Richardson, along with Illinois Sen. Barack Obama*, is expected to be the main beneficiary of former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner's decision not to run in 2008.

*UPDATE: For more on Sen. B.O., check this entry, on Monday's AmSpecBlog.

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