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Will Heath Shuler Challenge Pelosi?

Democrat Heath Shuler gives a thumbs up to supporters after winning the 11th Congressional District of North Carolina in Asheville, N.C., Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2006. Shuler defeated incumbent Rep. Charles Taylor. AP

Heath Shuler, a moderate "Blue Dog" Democrat from North Carolina who has called for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to give up her Democratic leadership role in the wake of the party's midterm losses, may be on the verge of announcing a bid to challenge to Pelosi.

After the Democrats saw their ranks shrink on Election Day -- particularly among the moderate Blue Dogs -- Shuler said it was time for Pelosi to step down. He threatened to challenge her if no one else would.

"If there's not a viable alternative -- like I said all along -- I can go recruit moderate Members to run in swing districts," he said. "In that situation, I could do it better than she could, and that's what it's going to take. It's going to take moderate candidates to win back those seats."

Now, Shuler, a former NFL quarterback, is expected to address his leadership plans in interviews on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday and MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Monday.

The Clay County Progress reported earlier this week that Shuler said he would challenge the San Francisco liberal.

"At this point, no one has come forward, no one in leadership for a long time," he said. "It will be very tough. It is probably a race we can't win. But we need a moderate voice in the Democratic Party."

Shuler's office would not say what the congressman's plans were, but an aide would not completely rule out that Shuler would announce his bid on the two talk shows, CBS News Senior Political Producer Jill Jackson reports. Shuler's remarks on the shows "will be consistent with what he has said -- that he believes Democrats need new leadership," the aide said.

The aide added, "And as he said for the past week, if nobody else steps up, he'll do it because it is time for new leadership."

At least 18 House Democrats have said they won't back Pelosi for minority leader, according to the Hill. However, when Pelosi announced her plans to run for the position, she said many of her colleagues had encouraged her to do so. Today, a group of 31 congresswomen sent a letter to their House colleagues, strongly endorsing Pelosi's leadership bid.

"At a time when the incoming Majority is expected to threaten the progress we have made for women and families, we need Nancy Pelosi as Democratic Leader to help us stay unified and fight back," they wrote.

Is Nancy Pelosi the Leader Democrats Need?



Stephanie Condon is a political reporter for CBSNews.com. You can read more of her posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.
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