THE ESTABLISHMENTARIAN….Why did Steny Hoyer beat John Murtha in the battle to become majority leader yesterday? In our profile of Hoyer from last month, Zack Roth provides some clues:

Throughout his career, he has earned a reputation for maintaining good relations with as many players as possible. ?Mr. Hoyer?s policy is that you?ve got to listen to all sides. Never close the door to anyone whether you agree with them or disagree with them,? says Bill Cable, his chief of staff. When I asked friends and former staffers which issues Hoyer seemed to feel most passionately about, most spoke instead about his political skills. ?He cares more about process than issues, per se,? says John Moag, who worked for him in both the Maryland state Senate and the U.S. Congress.

….Most Democrats agree he deserves some of the credit for the dramatically increased Democratic unity on display over the last year and a half, in part because of the changes he instituted to the whipping operation, including permanently assigning deputy whips to ?cover? specific members of the caucus. During the Social Security fight last year, Pelosi and Hoyer, working together, succeeded in convincing almost every Democrat to avoid offering an alternative plan of his or her own, preventing the White House from shifting attention away from the unpopularity of its own approach, and ultimately dooming the president?s initiative. But even here, there was a hint that Hoyer?s constant desire to avoid alienating allies threatened to undo the Democrats? hard-won unity: When Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) floated a tentative proposal of his own, aides to Pelosi denounced it as a tactical blunder, but Hoyer called it ?useful.?

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