'Blue Dog' Heath Shuler to Challenge Pelosi for House Democratic Leader

By Chris Johnson | November 17, 2010 | 9:40 AM EST

Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.)

(CNSNews.com) - If outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) remains unchallenged in her bid for the House Minority Leader position for the next Congress, Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) says he will run against her.

“I've said all along I'm hoping that Nancy Pelosi will step aside and will allow the leaders that are available, who are ready to go, but because of her being at the very top right now, no one's willing to throw their hat in the ring,” Shuler told CNN over the weekend.

Though he is not expected to win a challenge, the North Carolina congressman is the whip for the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of moderate Democrats in the House.

For pro-lifers, Shuler would be a welcome change from Pelosi. The former NFL football player received a 66 percent rating from the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), voting pro-life four times out of six. Pelosi has a zero percent NRLC rating.

The two votes with which the NRLC took exception were on the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, which established an Office for Global Women’s Issues to advocate for women’s rights, including abortion, around the world -- and on the Disclose Act which would make it illegal for organizations like the NRLC to run commercials drawing attention to a politician’s stands on issues like abortion.

But Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the NRLC, told CNSNews.com that the recent elections sent several pro-life Democrats out the door. What was left is a staunchly pro-abortion group.

“The new caucus, the Democrats who will be in office in the 112th Congress are the most monolithically pro-abortion caucus that there has ever been in the House since Roe v. Wade,” Johnson said.

Johnson also told CNSNews.com that while he could not speak for Shuler, he believed the congressman was drawing a line of demarcation between the far-left majority in the caucus and the few remaining moderate or blue dog Democrats.

“One might imagine that there are some of the surviving House Democrats who want to underscore the distinction between their position on some key issues and that of the leadership since that was an issue in so many races,” Johnson said.

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