Just in at Fox. Soak it in. Updates coming.
Update: Unless there was some eleventh-hour shift to Hoyer — which is unlikely, considering that 90 Democrats had already publicly committed to him yesterday — then Murtha lied to Matthews’s face on Hardball yesterday.
Update: Welcome the new majority leader!
Murtha was an unindicted co-conspirator in the Abscam scandal of the 1970s, which has prompted some to support the other man seeking the House majority leader’s job — Rep. Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland — as the more ethical candidate.
Hoyer, also on appropriations, sent $61.7 million to his district just outside of Washington during this Congress, the watchdog group says. That put him among the top 10% of earmarkers in the House. The earmarks frequently benefited local defense contractors.
In the 2006 defense appropriations bill, for example, Hoyer secured $2.8 million for ManTech International Corp., which has a facility in his district that is developing a military project. ManTech’s executives and its political action committee have donated $49,000 to Hoyer’s campaign and leadership funds since 2001.
Update: How high were the stakes? The New York Observer’s Politicker blog posted this before the vote:
The damage could be significant if she loses. Forget the public relations angle – this is a woman who has had a remarkably strong hold on the Democratic Caucus, despite the best efforts of her foes (internal and external) to undermine her. But this looks very petty and very personal– a grudge being carried out against a man, Hoyer, who Pelosi simply doesn’t trust and doesn’t like. And that could weaken her support structure within the Democratic caucus, whose ranks she has now divided just days after their stunning win at the polls…
[I]f she does pull out a win for Murtha this morning, she will take the Speaker’s gavel with unparalleled and unquestioned power, the strongest Speaker the House has seen in years. And she’ll have delivered one final, lasting blow to Hoyer – the man she first met 40-something years ago, when they both interned for Maryland Senator Daniel Brewster.
Update: Try as he might, Jules Crittenden can’t get too excited:
As political theater, it promises to be a great show. And I want to be enthusiastic about it.
There’s just one thing.
It isn’t theater. Lives hang in the balance. Possibly thousands of American lives and tens of thousands of Iraqi lives. None of what I’ve described above, if you care about the future of America and American values in the world, is much good. All of it carries the threat of grave consequences.
Update: I wonder how much of this was influenced by Abizaid (and Zinni and Batiste) all saying in the past 48 hours that a quick withdrawal from Iraq would be catastrophic. It’d be hard for the Dems to support that position with Murtha as majority leader.
Update: The “culture of corruption” fun hasn’t end just yet. Judicial Watch is calling on Pelosi to eliminate Alcee Hastings from consideration for the chairmanship of the Intel Committee. And the Blotter is reporting that Robert Menendez remains a “person of interest” in a federal investigation into a shady real-estate deal in New Jersey. That plus the rumors about Reid and Abramoff probably also lost Murtha a few votes.
Update: Pelosi is speaking now; video soon. She just congratulated Murtha for having spoken “truth to power” in opposing the war.
Update: Video of the Pelosi/Hoyer/Murtha joint presser is here.
Update: No comment.