By Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Portland, Oregon. Previously, Blumenauer contributed A first test for the Democrats.
Editor's note: Earlier this morning, Congressman Steny Hoyer won election as the majority leader.
For all the reasons outlined in my previous blog post on the Democratic majority leader race, I have spent more time than I ever expected thinking through my personal decision. It involves three people that I admire for different reasons. Obviously, it involves the two candidates; Democratic whip Steny Hoyer and Jack Murtha. It also involves Nancy Pelosi and my desire to have a team that works for her and the entire Democratic caucus.
I did not support Steny Hoyer in the race in 2001 for Democratic Whip. I was a Pelosi person. I worked hard for her election to the whip position. I respect the outstanding job that she has done unifying and leading the Democratic caucus to victory and the tremendous tasks ahead. I want her to succeed with every fiber in my being not just for the Democrats, but for America. This country needs Nancy Pelosi to be able to bring the full powers of the office of the Speaker in order to deal with the serious problems and deficiencies of this administration and the sad record of Republican control of the House of Representatives for the last dozen years.
Nancy needs a strong, effective leader of the Democratic caucus. Despite personality conflicts between Nancy and Steny, my choice was not based upon who likes whom. My decision was based on the person I felt best qualified to lead our caucus.
As I analyzed my vote, both Steny and Jack were kind enough to have extensive conversations with me.
Jack was passionate about ending the war.
Steny was passionate about helping to lead the caucus.
I have been totally committed to reversing the damage of this reckless action in Iraq and had been so three years before Jack and more forcefully than Steny. If the goal is to help solve the Iraq disaster, it is imperative that we function with maximum effectiveness as a unified and strong caucus.
Jack can be the point person and public face as effectively, perhaps with greater impact, as the top Congressional appropriator on defense.
Steny can help best not just by being committed to our work on Iraq, but being our caucus floor leader to fight for our entire agenda.
By experience, his voting record and advocacy for wide range of caucus priorities, including the environment and ethics reform, Steny Hoyer is the best choice for majority leader and won my vote.
As I had written earlier, this election was about more than the Democrats selecting a majority leader. It was a chance to demonstrate our character and our capacity to deal with differences. My sense is that we met that first challenge. Now it is up to us to see what we do from here.