Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.): If I Were Pelosi, I Wouldn't Have Run For Minority Leader (VIDEO)

11/24/2010 12:56 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Sam Stein Senior Politics Editor, The Huffington Post

WASHINGTON -- Nearly a week after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Cali.) secured her bid to remain top member of her caucus, the doubts expressed by fellow Democrats over her tenure continue.

In an interview with Nevada's top political reporter, Jon Ralston, on Tuesday, Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) said that had she been in Pelosi's shoes, she would not have run for the post of Minority Leader in the upcoming Congress.

"If I was the Speaker and I had lost 63 votes I would not have stood election. But the fact is she did, there was nobody to seriously challenge her.

"If I were Speaker, I wouldn't have," Berkley added. "But she did and she had no serious opposition as much as I like Heath Shuler..."

Berkley aired concerns about Pelosi's stewardship shortly after the November elections. But what stands out about her comments to Ralston are not, simply, that they come a week after the internal caucus elections but that Berkley actually voted to put Pelosi in place as Minority Leader.

"I could have made a protest vote but the reality is Heath Shuler is pro-Yucca and anti-gaming," she said. "Nancy Pelosi, as the leader of my party, I want someone who is pro-gaming, anti-Yucca, and supports the issues that the people in my district care about. And that was what was the determinative factor."

Shuler's candidacy, while symbolic for some, was ultimately viewed as a pointless charade by many Democrats on the Hill. In an interview with The Huffington Post shortly before the vote, Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Ohio) underscored that perception when she noted that the North Carolina Democrat was "much better talking about football than he was talking about politics."

But Berkley's I-chose-the-lesser-of-two-evils explanation is not without some political calculation. The congresswoman acknowledges that she is thinking of challenging Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) in 2012. And in a state like Nevada getting some distance from Pelosi is probably more virtue than vice.