Pelosi to quit if GOP takes the House?

Assuming that the Republicans take control of the House in the next session of Congress, what will happen with current Democratic leadership?  Usually after an electoral debacle, the remaining members of the caucus want fresh voices at the top to recapture credibility with voters.  Most Speakers don’t stick around Congress at all, and some speculation in Washington has Nancy Pelosi looking for greener pastures rather than suffer the humiliation of returning to back-bencher status.  CQ Politics looks through the smoke signals, via Yahoo:

Democrats on Capitol Hill and K Street are increasingly convinced that Speaker Nancy Pelosi would have little interest in being Minority Leader — and may start preparing to leave Congress altogether — if Republicans win the House next week.

Pelosi and her allies adamantly refuse to entertain questions about a possible Democratic minority. But Democratic sources say they have a hard time imagining the 70-year-old, independently wealthy California Democrat would want to return to the less-powerful post that she held for four years before becoming Speaker in 2007, particularly after having spent the past four years driving the Congressional agenda.

Should Republicans sweep into power on Nov. 2, the pivotal question that some Democrats have begun contemplating is one of timing: Does Pelosi step aside immediately, or does she stick around for a few months as Minority Leader to help smooth the transition to her successor? Both scenarios assume Pelosi heads for the exits within a few weeks or months.

“It’s pretty clear that what she does is just leave,” said a former House leadership aide who now works downtown. The Democrat had no direct knowledge of Pelosi’s plans but predicted she would probably resign from Congress in fairly short order. “Once you’ve been Speaker of the House, why would she just want to be a Member of Congress?”

CQ also reports that some House Democrats fear Pelosi’s departure.  She is a prodigious fundraiser, and her top-down management style has made her indispensable to the current decision-making process.  A reshuffle would mean something akin to starting from scratch, no doubt one of the reasons why so few Democrats would commit to voting against her as Speaker in the unlikely event that Democrats managed to cling to a majority after the midterms.

But that’s more or less the point.  The coming wave of Republican victories will owe its existence in large part to the decisions made by Nancy Pelosi, her priorities, and especially her strategic hubris.  It was Pelosi who locked Republicans out of the lawmaking process on Porkulus and later ObamaCare in the House, the two bills that have been an albatross around Democratic necks in the midterms.  Had Steny Hoyer held the gavel, he might well have lured enough Republicans into the bill-writing process to spread the political risk to both parties.  Instead, Pelosi allowed the GOP to return to its small-government roots — indeed, gave them no choice but to return to those roots.

A few months of disarray might be necessary in order to rid Democratic leadership of Pelosi’s influence.  Democrats won’t keep her in power after a big loss to continue being the poster child for Republicans to use to paint Democrats as both extreme and unresponsive, and without power, Pelosi will lose interest in sticking around as most former Speakers do.  All that will remain will be to see whether she tries to fly home on a chartered military jet.