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Political notebook

Dissatisfaction with Pelosi mounting

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, seen at a American Veterans Disabled groundbreaking ceremony yesterday, startled many Democrats by running for minority leader. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, seen at a American Veterans Disabled groundbreaking ceremony yesterday, startled many Democrats by running for minority leader. (Win Mcnamee/ Getty Images)
November 11, 2010

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WASHINGTON — In a fresh sign of turmoil among defeated Democrats, a growing number of the rank and file say they will not support House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a politically symbolic roll call when the new Congress meets in January.

“The reality is that she is politically toxic,’’ said Representative Mike Quigley of Illinois, one of several Democrats trying to pressure Pelosi to step aside as her party’s leader in the wake of historic election losses to Republicans last week.

Pelosi startled many Democrats with a quick postelection announcement that she would run for minority leader. She has yet to draw an opponent for the post. Party elections are scheduled for next week, although a postponement is possible.

In the interim, Pelosi’s critics have become more vocal in their efforts to retire her from the party leadership.

There is “starting to be a sense that this may not be as much of a done deal as people might have thought,’’ Representative Jason Altmire of Pennsylvania said of Pelosi’s quest to remain the top Democrat.

“If enough people come out and voice a little discomfort with the idea of her continuing on, maybe she would reconsider,’’ said Altmire, one of a handful of Democrats who said they will not cast a ceremonial vote for her.

The election of a party leader occurs behind closed doors. A separate election for speaker to be held on Jan. 5, a few hours after the House convenes for the first time, is a very visible one. One member of each party is typically nominated, and each lawmaker is then called by name to stand and declare a choice. The event is customarily televised live.

Defections from party discipline are rare in such circumstances, but several Democrats have said they would not support Pelosi. They did not specify how they would vote instead.

Pelosi’s office declined to comment yesterday on calls for her to step aside, but she was mounting a robust defense of her record. In an op-ed in USA Today, Pelosi blamed the election results on “the genuine frustration of the American people, who are justifiably angered by the continued high unemployment rate.’’

Most of the Democrats who say they would not support Pelosi are moderates from conservative districts who have toiled to distinguish themselves from their liberal leader, and who watched dozens of like-minded Democrats go down in defeat after Republicans savaged them in TV advertisements as lapdogs of the San Francisco congresswoman. -- ASSOCIATED PRESS

Keep ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ Obama urges high court
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration urged the Supreme Court yesterday to keep the “don’t ask, don’t tell’’ policy on gays in the military in place while a federal appeals court considers the issue.

The administration filed court papers in defense of an appeals court order that allowed “don’t ask, don’t tell’’ to go back into effect after a federal judge declared it unconstitutional and barred its enforcement. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco is reviewing the White House appeal.

Log Cabin Republicans, a gay rights group, has asked the Supreme Court to step into the case to reverse the appeals court decision that has allowed “don’t ask, don’t tell’’ to remain in effect despite the order by US District Judge Virginia Phillips.

Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal said the high court only rarely intervenes in a dispute at this stage.

The policy, which prohibits gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, was lifted for eight days last month after Phillips, saying that it violates the civil rights of gay Americans, issued an injunction barring the Pentagon from applying it. -- ASSOCIATED PRESS

’62 photo of Monroe with JFK, RFK to be auctioned
NEW YORK — An image of Marilyn Monroe in a skin-tight pearl-encrusted dress flanked by President John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert, then US attorney general, used to be kept in an envelope tagged “Sensitive material.’’

Part of a lot estimated to be valued at $4,000 to $6,000, the photograph will be sold Dec. 9 at Bonhams in New York as part of the 12,000-image archive of Cecil Stoughton, the first official White House photographer.

Timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s election, the sale is expected to fetch as much as $250,000.

“She is wearing an outrageous dress,’’ said Matthew Haley, historical photograph specialist at Bonhams. “We believe it’s the only picture where the three of them appear together.’’

The black-and-white Monroe photograph was taken on May 19, 1962, the day she sang “Happy Birthday, Mr. President’’ to Kennedy at Madison Square Garden in New York. -- BLOOMBERG NEWS

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