House Democrats To Decide Whip Position Wednesday

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:28pm EDT

( - The second most powerful position among Democrats in the U.S. House will be up for grabs Wednesday. Reps. Steny Hoyer of Maryland and Nancy Pelosi of California have lobbied heavily for the job of minority whip, which is second in stature only to minority leader, the position currently occupied by Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri.

The current Democratic whip, Rep. David Bonior, is leaving Congress to run for governor in Michigan.

While Pelosi believes she has enough votes to win, some insiders say neither of them has the election sewn up.

The whip is responsible for persuading colleagues to support the party position so its favored legislation passes the House.

Bonior has endorsed Pelosi, calling her "smart, intelligent, tough and experienced." According to Bonior, "[Pelosi] has worked very hard in the whip organization."

However, current Deputy Democratic Whip, Rep. Chet Edwards of Texas publicly endorsed Hoyer. "Steny is a top-notch consensus builder and he clearly understands what it takes to be a successful whip," said Edwards.

The whip election had originally been set for Thursday but Gephardt moved it up a day so New York Democrats could vote in the New York City mayoral runoff, which was postponed last month because of the terrorist attacks.

215 Democrats are eligible to vote. 108 votes are needed to win.

Pelosi is serving her eighth term in the House. She was first elected in 1987 to represent the San Francisco area was re-elected in 2000 by an overwhelming margin.

This year, she became the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. Her chief issues in the House have been human rights, especially in China and AIDS funding.

Hoyer is serving his twelfth term in the House. He was first elected in 1981 and represents many of the Maryland counties east and south of Washington. He was re-elected in 2000 by an overwhelming margin.

He has served as chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, the House Democratic Steering Committee and was parliamentarian at the 2000 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles.

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