It’s been happening around the country, and now here in Connecticut two prominent Democrats appear to be distancing themselves from the Democratic leadership in Washington, namely House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
During a taping of Face the State, when I asked both Congressmen Jim Himes and Joe Courtney if they would endorse Pelosi for another term as their leader, they balked.
The two are running for re-election in districts where President Obama’s approval rating has fallen and unemployment is high. With an electorate becoming increasingly frustrated with Washington, Himes and Courtney are both stressing to voters that they are “independent voices. ”
Himes is one of roughly three dozen Democrats in the House bucking Pelosi’s call to end the Bush tax cuts for those making over $250,000 a year, and he talks about that on Sunday’s show. Courtney supports Pelosi on that issue, but has gone against her wishes on some other votes.
Dan DeBicella, the Republican running against Himes has been highly critical of the incumbent’s ties with the President and the Speaker. Ditto for Janet Peckinpaugh, Courtney’s opponent.
I asked both men about their feelings toward Pelosi. Here is a condensed preview of our conversation you will see Sunday:
DH: Do you think Speaker Pelosi is taking Congress in the right direction?
JH: I don’t think a lot about Speaker Pelosi. My job is to represent my constituents…
DH: If the Democrats hold on to control, do you think Mrs. Pelosi is the best speaker for the House?
JH: (brief pause)
DH: Would you endorse her re-election?
JH: You know, Dennis, at a time when unemployment is so high I have devoted no time to thinking about whether Nancy Pelosi or Steny Hoyer or anyone else would be the best leader.
DH: It seems non-committal, your support for Speaker Pelosi. Right now you could say “I’d like to see her re-elected as speaker,” but you are hesitant.
JH: Ha, I haven’t given it an iota of thought.
Here’s an abbreviated preview of Courtney’s response:
DH: Would you endorse Nancy Pelosi for another term as speaker?
JC: If is is a choice between her and John Boehner……it is an easy choice.
DH: Obviously you wouldn’t vote for a Republican. Is she the best Democrat to be speaker?
JC: Look obviously there is an election to take place and there will be caucuses that will take place and at this point there is no opposition that has materialized.
DH: Has she done a good job?
JC: That is the most thankless job in America…
Although they had some complimentary words about Speaker, their lack of enthusiasm was very noticeable.
Also on Sunday’s show: Himes called DeBicella “right wing,” Courtney talked about Peckinpaugh’s stance on the sub base, and both men defended their records.
A programming note: we had some technical issues with our taping. A television monitor failed moments before the Courtney interview, so we had to move to the Eyewitness News set. For the Himes interview you’ll notice the background was orange, rather than the usual aqua because of a lighting malfunction.
Also, we have some great old film of a presidential visit to Hartford, dug out of the archives.
See you Sunday at 11AM.