Hotline: Murtha doesn't have the votes; Update: Hotline backs off

According to two independent sources.

In the meantime, this is hilarious:

Rep.-elect Kirsten Gillibrand faced her first test as a freshman member of Congress Tuesday when she was summoned to the office of Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi and asked to explain why she opposes Pelosi’s choice for Democratic leader…

Gillibrand said she told Pelosi she will vote for Hoyer because he twice traveled to New York to campaign for her. She said Hoyer telephoned three weeks ago seeking her support and she gave her word.

Gillibrand said Pelosi “shared with me her views about how wonderful” Murtha was “and the leadership he could provide.”

In the same meeting, Pelosi asked Gillibrand for her preferences for House committee assignments, a critical appointment that the speaker controls.

As translated by Rush Limbaugh, who formally endorsed Murtha’s disastrous candidacy yesterday: “Message: You’re going to be sweeping the floors here and cleaning the latrines if you don’t change your mind here and vote for Murtha on this.”

What’s her damage, anyway? According to Bob Novak, she takes things too personally:

Pelosi’s personal pique was evident in her opposition to her rival diva from California, Rep. Jane Harman, as chairman of the House intelligence committee. In line to replace Harman is Rep. Alcee Hastings, who was once impeached as a federal judge on bribery charges.

For a party that effectively stressed a Republican climate of corruption in the recent campaign to consider placing Murtha and Hastings in its leadership astonishes a wide range of Democrats. They do not believe Murtha can defeat Hoyer, but the imminence of Hastings stuns them. Well-placed Democrats have told Pelosi she cannot permit this to happen. What they hesitate to contemplate is what lies ahead based on Pelosi’s performance before she has taken the oath.

WaPo sees something similar going on with her and Hoyer, whom she defeated to become minority leader five years ago:

For the most part, lawmakers, Hill aides and some outside advisers — even some close to her — say they are at a loss to explain why Pelosi has held a grudge for so long, because she clearly has the upper hand as leader of the House Democrats. They suggest that part of what rankles her is that Hoyer is not beholden to her and feels no compulsion to publicly agree with her on every issue. This, allies say, she sees as a sign of disloyalty.

Ray LaHood describes the GOP as “giddy” over what’s happening and tells the Times, “I can’t believe they are self-destructing before they even get started.” And the beauty of it is, while this Hoyer/Murtha thing is going away soon, the Carville/Dean sniping is just getting warmed up:

Stan Greenberg, the Democratic pollster, and Mr. Carville used the forum of a Monitor Breakfast, a gathering of newsmakers and reporters, to say Mr. Dean wasted an opportunity to make historic gains by refusing to take resources out of his effort to build up parties in all 50 states and put them into Congressional races.

Mr. Greenberg said that Republicans held 14 seats by a single percentage point and that a small investment by Mr. Dean could have put Democrats into a commanding position for the rest of the decade.

“There was a missed opportunity here,” he said. “I’ve sat down with Republican pollsters to discuss this race: They believe we left 10 to 20 seats on the table.

The Dems are meeting right now to decide between Hoyer and Murtha; they’ve already formally elected Nancy. as their candidate for Speaker. Standby for the exciting, party-splitting, Pelosi-humiliating conclusion!

Update: Hold the phone — Hotline’s post now says this:

An earlier post incorrectly insinuated that Rep. John Murtha’s campaign has conceded the majority leader’s race.

Murtha’s campaign hasn’t conceded.

The vote for whip hasn’t yet occurred.

We regret leaving our readers with the impression that the race was decided before it was decided.

That must have been some phone call they just got.