By Peter Roff, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
Given the depths to which the public’s feelings about Congress has sunk, it was only a matter of time before a Democrat running for Congress determined it would be a good idea to separate himself from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. West Virginia State Sen. Mike Oliverio, who hopes to unseat veteran Rep. Alan Mollohan in the May 11 Democratic primary, said this week that he hoped “there will be a better candidate than Nancy Pelosi” running for the speakership when the House votes to organize itself next January, according to Politico.
It is important to note that Oliverio is not some marginal dark horse candidate. He is a serious threat to the ethically-challenged Mollohan’s attempt to keep alive his almost 30-year career in Congress. One recent poll conducted by Mollohan’s own campaign showed him below 50, with his lead over Oliverio cut to single digits. Another poll, conducted by the challenger, had Oliverio up by 8 points against the veteran incumbent.
It is no surprise that Pelosi, who is a vehement supporter of cap-and trade energy taxes, would be a drag in a place like West Virginia, where coal mining is not so much an industry as it is a way of life. Still, for a congressional candidate to announce preemptively that the California Democrat was not his first choice for speaker of the House, as soft a statement as that is, might be the first leak in the dyke if Oliverio comes out on top in the upcoming primary. The last thing Pelosi needs at this point is for vulnerable Democrats in marginal areas to decide the way to Congress is over her political corpse.