News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Max Jones

November 17, 2006

That’s a wrap -- An editorial page week in review

Those strings don’t have much pull

One of the more vivid advertising images left over from the 2006 campaign for Indiana’s 8th District congressional seat in the U.S. House of Representatives is the cheesy direct-mail flyer showing liberal Rep. Nancy Pelosi holding the puppet strings on Democrat challenger Brad Ellsworth.

The implication was clear. If Ellsworth were elected, despite his proclamations of being a conservative Democrat, he could be beholden to the so-called liberal leadership in the House. That notion, of course, was dependent on the Democrats taking control of House.

The Democrats did take control for the first time in more than decade, and Pelosi, who has been the House minority leader in recent years, is now set to become the first female Speaker of the House in U.S. history when the next Congress convenes in January.

But those Pelosi puppet strings the GOP campaign geniuses imagined on Ellsworth seem to have been a little harder to pull than was anticipated.

During this week’s Democratic Party caucus in Washington, D.C., in which Ellsworth participated, Pelosi was chosen Speaker, as expected. But her recommendation for House majority leader was Pennsylvania Rep. John Murtha, whom she favored over rival Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland.

Ellsworth did not vote with Pelosi on the selection of the majority leader. Instead, he voted for Hoyer. In fact, he went so far as to announce his intentions in advance.

“I have enormous respect for both candidates,” Ellsworth said in a press statement. “We’re blessed with two people who could do the job well, so a lot of us are faced with a tough choice.

“Rep. Hoyer was very helpful during my campaign, and I am honored to lend him my support.”

Ellsworth won’t officially take the oath of office until January. But this vote indicates that he will not be the Pelosi rubber stamp that his GOP detractors wanted us all to believe during the campaign.

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