From Steve Kornacki at Salon:
The seeds of Sunday night’s historic House vote were planted not by Barack Obama’s election in 2008, but by a little-noticed internal House leadership contest nearly a decade ago.
Back in the fall of 2001, two Democrats were vying for the vacant position of House minority whip. But the election wasn’t really for the caucus’ No. 2 leadership spot. It was for the top job.
Richard Gephardt, then the Democrats’ House leader, would be stepping down after the next election, so the winner of the whip’s race would be in line to replace him – and to become the House Democrats’ public face for the next decade, at least. Which is why there was trepidation – to put it mildly – among more than a few Democratic members about the race’s front-runner: Nancy Pelosi.