AP: DeWeese to forgo run for Pa. House Dem leader

November 14, 2008 5:57:54 PM PST
Rep. Bill DeWeese said Friday he has decided not to seek another term as Democratic leader in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in an effort to avoid a potentially bruising leadership battle. DeWeese told The Associated Press that he plans to run for whip instead, which would be the third-ranking position if his party controls the chamber as expected. He threw his support behind Rep. Todd Eachus, D-Luzerne, to become majority leader in the two-year session that starts in January.

DeWeese said he felt he could get enough votes to remain majority leader but feared that doing so might damage the unity of the caucus.

"I thought a brutalizing effort ... could potentially reach the meager threshold, but again, to what end?" he said in a phone conversation that followed dinner in Philadelphia with Appropriations Chairman Dwight Evans, a pivotal figure in House Democrats' internal politics.

Both parties in the House have scheduled reorganizational meetings for Tuesday. The other candidates for majority leader are expected to be Rep. Kathy Manderino of Philadelphia and three representatives from Allegheny County: David Levdansky, Joseph Markosek and Frank Dermody. The closed-door vote is by secret ballot.

The slate of Democratic whip candidates is expected to be DeWeese, Rep. Peter Daley of Westmoreland County and Rep. Bill Keller of Philadelphia. But other candidates could emerge, and many within the caucus have described the situation in recent days as extremely fluid.

The only Democratic candidate to emerge so far for speaker is Rep. Keith McCall of Carbon County, although the current speaker, Rep. Dennis O'Brien, R-Philadelphia, has said he would like to continue in the post. O'Brien was elected speaker two years ago because of Democratic infighting and their even narrower 102-101 margin.

The Democrats won at least 101 seats in the Nov. 4 election and are leading in three races that The Associated Press has not called. If those leads hold up, they will have a five-seat majority in the chamber.


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