San Francisco's Nancy Pelosi moved Thursday to become the highest ranking Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives, after Rep. Richard Gephardt announced he would step aside.
Following the Democrats' poor showing in congressional races around the nation, Gephardt announced he would let others take the day-to-day reins while he took stock of the overall situation.
Pelosi released a statement thanking the departing Democratic leader and supporting his vision and values. But she also said she planned to become a candidate for his job immediately.
“I look forward to building upon the strong foundation he has established,” she said. Fellow Democrat Rep. Tom Lantos, of San Mateo, also expressed his gratitude to Gephardt for his eight years of service during “particularly difficult years for our party.”
Pelosi, D-San Francisco, has been in the House since 1987. Last fall she made history by becoming the first woman to be named Democratic Whip, the party's No. 2 position in the House.
She serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and is a senior member of the Appropriations Committee as well as its Subcommittee on Labor Health and Human Services and Education.
Pelosi has made human rights and health services, particularly AIDS and breast cancer, central themes in her legislative efforts.