Unopposed in Bid -- His Third -- For No. 2 Democratic Job in House|
By Etan Horowitz
Capital News Service
Thursday, Nov. 7, 2002
WASHINGTON - A member of the Maryland congressional delegation is
positioned to become the second-most powerful Democrat in the House, in a
post-election shakeup of the Democratic leadership.
Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Mechanicsville, said he will run for the minority
whip position, a job Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is leaving in her bid for
the now- vacant minority leader position.
Hoyer said he has the support of 175 of the House's 208 Democrats and, so
far, no opponent. He has been angling for the job for years, currying favor
with Democratic congressional candidates this year by donating significant
amounts of time and money to their campaigns.
The Center for Responsive Politics said Hoyer gave $610,475 to other
candidates in this election cycle, the fourth-most of any congressman, and
he stumped in more than 20 congressional districts.
"You not only round it (whip votes) up on the inside but from the outside
as well," said Frank DeFilippo, a political commentator for WBAL Radio.
"Heavy contributors can play a role in it."
The biggest donor to other candidates was Pelosi, who is running against
Rep. Martin Frost, D-Texas, for the minority leader job that is being
vacated by Rep. Dick Gephardt, D-Mo. Frost was 12th on the list of
DeFilippo called the whip job "one of those anonymous, inside-baseball
positions" that carry more weight within the party than with the public. The
whip, as the name suggests, is responsible for rounding up votes on key
issues and bringing members of the caucus together.
Should Hoyer get the job, DeFilippo said, it would give the state
bragging rights but will not significantly improve Maryland's legislative
"Basically, what they do is round up votes," DeFilippo said. "People
outside the beltway rarely know what whip does."
But Rep. Ben Cardin, D-Baltimore, said the position would bring Hoyer
into the fold on key legislative decisions and into contact with the White
House. This increased access can only help Hoyer serve his district, said
Cardin, who is managing Hoyer's whip campaign.
Hoyer conceded that most of his constituents "really won't care what the
whip does. What they care about is how effective can their representative be
on behalf of issues they feel are important. As the second-ranking Democrat,
I will have increased ability to serve my district."
A win will be redemption for Hoyer, who has twice run unsuccessfully for
whip. Last year, he lost to Pelosi 118 to 95, and in 1991 he lost to
then-Rep. David Bonior, D-Mich., 160 to 109.
Hoyer and his supporters credit his previous bids as proof that he has
paid his dues and it's now his turn. They noted that it is unusual for
someone to run opposed for whip.
"He is going to get it," Cardin said. "Steny got a lot of good will in
the last two races and it will be reflected from his congressional caucus."
Hoyer will not endorse either Pelosi or Frost for minority leader, but is
generally seen as a moderate. He blames Democratic losses in Tuesday's
elections on the party's inability to communicate its message to voters
"There is no doubt that the president was successful in nationalizing the
election and focusing the electorate on the war with Iraq," Hoyer said. "It
was not a result of people not agreeing with us on the issues, but we were
not successful in communicating our message."
2002 University of Maryland College of
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