WASHINGTON — The surprise retirements of Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) and his California colleague, Rep. George Miller (D-Martinez) are fueling speculation about the political future of House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, the San Francisco lawmaker who counted both men as trusted allies.
Pelosi on Thursday reiterated her commitment to run for reelection this year. "I'm running. I've already started the paperwork process. My work is not finished,'' Pelosi said in a statement provided by her office.
Aides insist that Pelosi, who is widely respected for keeping Democrats in line, remains active in raising funds for the upcoming battle for control of Congress. She served as House speaker between 2007 and 2010, and is currently the minority leader.
But a growing number of pundits predict that Democrats will be unable to retake the House, which Republicans have controlled since 2010. The long odds are believed to have factored heavily in the retirements of Waxman, who announced his decision Thursday, and Miller, another influential Democrat who said earlier this month he would not run again.
Some have suggested that their departure could increase the chances that Pelosi might be the next to leave.
"If she doesn't gain the House back…she might decide to retire, particularly after Obama leaves, no matter who the president is,'' said Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, senior fellow at the USC Price School of Public Policy.
Jeffe said she expected Pelosi to run at least one more time. "What kind of a message would it be if the former speaker and the current minority leader -- whose job is to do everything she can to regain the House -- retires before the election?'' she asked.
Waxman said Thursday that his retirement had nothing to do with Democrats' prospects for winning the House majority. "I am confident that the Democrats can regain control," he said.