About a month ago one of my contacts who has the proverbial "Friends In High Places" in Washington DC told me that Steny Hoyer was going to be the next majority leader if Democrats took control of the House of Representatives. Despite all the fuss in the media and on the blogs about the race between Hoyer and John Murtha, the insiders knew all along what the outcome was going to be, and the results of the leadership election, 149-86 in Hoyer's favor, shows that it was never even a contest.
So who is Steny Hoyer?
He's a moderate on most issues, but hawkish on foreign policy. A nice guy, liked by most of his colleagues, but also a consummate political hack. A man who puts process and relationships ahead of values and ideology. A man of great ambition and questionable loyalty. As majority leader he could be a huge asset to speaker Pelosi, or he could sabotage her and undercut the Democratic agenda. Hard to say which way he'll go.
The best info I've seen on Hoyer is a Washington Monthly profile article that was published ... about a month ago:
If Hoyer, 67, appears to have an extra spring in his step lately, there’s a good reason. As the number-two Democrat in the House, he’ll likely become majority leader if Democrats win control this November.
Since entering Congress in 1981, Hoyer has forged an identity as a centrist, particularly on foreign-policy issues, that has helped make him the leadership’s unofficial liaison to the Blue Dog Democrats—a group of the caucus’s more conservative members—but has at times created tension with the more liberal Pelosi. On the day last December that she publicly backed a call from Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) for withdrawal from Iraq, Hoyer released a statement declaring that such a policy “could lead to disaster.” And earlier that year, he angered the leader by supporting a bill being pushed by the credit-card industry designed to make it harder for people to declare bankruptcy.Not so good. But here's where Hoyer could really help:
This conservatism has not won him friends among liberal bloggers—who argue that Democrats should have the courage of their convictions on basic issues of war and peace and economic fairness. But if Democrats do indeed retake power next year, keeping the party united will be crucial to many of the tasks that they’ll confront—from working to fix disastrous Republican legislation to conducting the vigorous oversight of the Bush administration that has been all but non-existent over the last six years. Because many of the House’s more conservative Democrats—not to mention its Republicans—simply trust Hoyer more than they do Pelosi, he stands to play a crucial role in holding the often fractious party together, and in working with the GOP, where possible, to pass legislation and hold the president accountable.On the other hand...
It’s less Hoyer’s centrism that may cause problems for Democrats, and more what might be called his establishmentarianism. [...] In some ways, a leader with a healthy respect for Congress’s traditional procedures would be a breath of fresh air after the last decade, in which Reps Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and Tom DeLay (R-Texas) rode roughshod over almost a century of established legislative norms. But the flip side of Hoyer’s obsession with process and old-fashioned relationship building is a reluctance to think strategically about changing the ways that Washington operates—even when doing so would benefit Democrats. Over the last year and a half, Hoyer—a protégé of Tony Coelho, the former California congressman who revolutionized Democratic fundraising in the 1980s—has led an aggressive effort to raise money from K Street lobbyists. Even more important, he has seemed unwilling to fundamentally rethink the unhealthy relationship between lobbyists and legislators that currently drives our political system. If Democrats are not only to regain power, but to maintain it and govern in a fairer and more responsive fashion, they’ll need to unite behind root-and-branch reform. But the evidence suggests that Hoyer lacks the political vision, and the will, to do so.