We welcome once more Jeffery A. Jenkins of the University of Virginia. Jenkins and Charles Stewart are the authors of the new book Fighting for the Speakership: The House and the Rise of Party Government.
While most reporters, pundits, and political scientists explored the ramifications and historical importance of the large number of defections on both sides of the aisle (but mostly on the GOP side) in yesterday’s House speakership election, one action was largely ignored.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi voted for herself for Speaker.
Pelosi’s actions weren’t new either, as she has now voted for herself for Speaker six consecutive times – in 2003 (108th Congress), 2005 (109th), 2007 (110th), 2009 (111th), 2011 (112th), and yesterday. On two of those occasions, of course, her Democratic Party was in the majority (in 2007 and 2009), so her vote helped produce her own election as Speaker.
What about John Boehner?
He refrained from voting for himself for Speaker yesterday, and also did not do so in 2009 and 2011. He did vote for himself, however, in 2007.
Looking back through the history, as far as I can tell, these are the only occasions in which a major party nominee has voted for himself/herself in a House speakership election.
Rep. Pelosi thus set a precedent in 2003 and has established a trend since then. Whether you love her or hate her, I think it’s fair to say that it takes a special person to cast a vote for herself (year after year) in a public setting of that magnitude.