Incoming Democrats Will Bring Moderation, Experts Predict

By Nathan Burchfiel | July 7, 2008 | 8:23pm EDT

( - The newly elected members of the Democratic Party in the House of Representatives will force the party's leadership to shift to the center in the name of maintaining control, according to political analysts.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who is expected to be the next speaker of the House, "has every reason to treat all members of the new Democratic majority caucus with fairness and inclusion," said Bill Galston, a senior fellow at the liberal Brookings Institution. "She understands full well that winning one election is nice but by itself means very little."

He said Pelosi and other liberal Democrats in the House leadership will have to work with incoming moderate Democrats to prove to the American people that they can govern effectively.

In a victory speech Tuesday night, Pelosi said she looked forward to working with incoming Democrats, President Bush and House Republicans "in partnership, not in partisanship."

"I would expect the relationship between the incoming Democratic House members and the leadership to be cordial and productive," Galston said. "Everybody has the same incentive and that is to make it work."

Galston added that the official leadership of the Democratic House will be decided by the new members themselves in January.

While he said there was "absolutely not" any question that Pelosi would assume the House leadership, Galston said the newly elected members, "many of whom are quite moderate themselves," would have to decide between Maryland's Steny Hoyer and Pennsylvania's John Murtha for House majority leader.

Dani Doane, director of congressional relations at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said the incoming freshmen were going to pose problems for Democratic leaders beyond the potential liberal-moderate conflict.

Doane said because the Democrats have not controlled the House for 12 years, they were "kind of starting over" and faced questions like, "How do you run things?" and "What role will the freshmen play?"

She said Pelosi and other Democratic leaders may have problems unifying the incoming Democrats because they were not beholden to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

"They seem to be very strong-willed. A lot of the candidates really pulled themselves up from their bootstraps," Doane said. "They weren't basically put in there by the DCCC so they're not going to be willing to sit back and take direction."

Doane said the Heritage Foundation, which she described as "conservative ... not Republican" sees some "silver lining" in the election results.

While some top conservative leaders were ousted, Doane said she was "encouraged and excited" because "at least 10 of the incoming Republican class are considered conservatives and I see a lot of potential in some of the incoming Democrats to be more the blue-dog model - fiscal conservancy."

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