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The Incoming Majority

House Democrats fear there will be lasting damage from the Hoyer-Murtha bout no matter who wins.  "The race has reinforced longstanding divisions between different factions in the caucus, members and observers said, and has diverted their attention from a positive message they hoped to project just days after winning control of the House."  Pelosi is pushing hard for Murtha, "raising the majority leader race with freshman during the same introductory meeting where they discuss committee assignments." 

The Washington Post says of Murtha's "total crap" remark, "Pelosi aides stressed that Murtha remains dedicated to the package's passage, but the dust-up rekindled memories of past Murtha votes.  He was one of 12 Democrats to vote against campaign finance legislation written by Sens John McCain... and Russell Feingold..., and he was one of four Democrats who opposed an ethics package earlier this year that was designed to contrast the Democrats' tough stance with a weaker Republican bill.  He also pushed a rules change to block outside groups from filing complaints to the House ethics committee." 

The Washington Times goes a bit further than most other papers by saying, "most of the attention on Capitol Hill yesterday fell on Mr. Murtha's run for House leadership, which many Democrats worry will sully their stunning victories last week and ruin any hopes of a reputation for ethical reform." 

The Los Angeles Times points out that "both of the Democrats vying" for the job "have long histories of earmarking, close relationships with corporate interests, and using their positions to raise millions of dollars in campaign contributions."  In addition to Murtha's already documented issues, the paper says that "Hoyer, also on appropriations, sent $61.7 million to his district just outside of Washington during this Congress...  That put him among the top 10% of earmarkers in the House.  The earmarks frequently benefited local defense contractors." 

Bob Novak: "This is a no-win situation for Pelosi.  If Murtha wins today, she will be accused of personal vindictiveness in derailing Hoyer, who is more popular in the caucus and better qualified for leadership.  If Murtha loses, as is much more probable, she will be seen as bumbling her first attempt to lead the new Democratic majority." 

The State profiles Rep. Jim Clyburn, who will ascend to majority whip today and is the "only black to represent South Carolina in Congress since 1897." 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid aims to pass "a bill to create criminal penalties for election fraud, including offenses such as voter misinformation campaigns carried out by robo-calls and misleading flyers," per Roll Call.  "Reid said the election measure likely would be one of the first 10 bills Democrats introduce next year - an indication of the high priority the party places on the issue.  Reid also indicated that he wants to rein in independent campaign expenditure groups, known as 527s, even though many of them have helped Democrats even out the edge in hard-dollar fundraising that Republicans have typically enjoyed." 

"Democratic strategist James Carville yesterday said Howard Dean should be replaced as chairman of the Democratic National Committee for failing to pursue a greater margin of victory in last week's midterm elections."