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Shuler to Challenge Pelosi as Democrat Leader

Democrat Heath Shuler gives a thumbs up in Asheville, N.C., in this Nov. 7, 2006, file photo. AP

(CBS/AP) Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) tells CBS News producer Jill Jackson that he will run for Democratic leader against Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

Shuler is one of the few so-called Blue Dog Democrats who was reelected to the House of Representatives in the 2010 midterm elections. (Blue Dogs are more conservative than most Democrats.) He's a member of the House Committee on Small Business and the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

If Shuler's voting record is any indication of the tone he'd set as House minority leader, he was one of 39 Democrats who voted against HR 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act.

Pelosi stunned Washington last week by announcing that she will run for Democratic leader even in the minority. Doing so set up a painful standoff for second place between lieutenants Steny Hoyer of Maryland and James Clyburn of South Carolina. About two dozen House Democrats, including a few of her allies, have expressed a preference for someone else as their leader next year, if not outright opposition to her candidacy. Two have urged Democrats to postpone leadership elections scheduled for Wednesday.

Post-election polling suggests that getting a nod to lead the Democrats for the next two years would be easy compared to the job that lies ahead: winning back the electorate's confidence and favor in time for the 2012 elections with the same leadership lineup and a more liberal caucus. And doing it all in an atmosphere in which 54 percent of Democratic-leaning adults say they want the party to move in a more moderate direction, according to a poll taken Nov. 4-7 by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

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