House Democrats have just elected Steny Hoyer over Jack Murtha as their new majority leader. The Associated Press says the vote was 146-89.
The rather lopsided result is a blow to Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi, who had thrown her support behind Murtha's candidacy. But truth be told, the mainstream press had already pegged Pelosi as the loser either way. As the AP's Andrew Taylor wrote in the run-up to today's vote, "The Hoyer-Murtha battle is a no-win situation for Pelosi . . . A Murtha victory could create hard feelings among Hoyer allies, especially moderate Democrats. On the other hand, a Hoyer victory could be seen as a defeat for Pelosi in her first major move since Election Day."
With the squabbling over now -- we'll give the Democrats-in-disarray story another day -- members of the new majority can turn their attention back to what matters. In a new Gallup poll, 36 percent of Americans say that the war in Iraq is the most important issue facing the country today. No other concern was named as the No. 1 issue by more than 10 percent of Gallup's respondents, and we're pretty sure not a single one of them put the identity of the House majority leader at the top of the list.
In a post-vote appearance before the cameras, Hoyer said that he'll work to advance the Democrats' agenda and to "reach across to the president of the United States" to say that "we need to make a transition in Iraq." Murtha vowed to continue his fight to end the war as the next chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcomittee. He congratulated Hoyer on his victory and said that he couldn't fault him for anything he did along the road to it.