All eyes on Pelosi for intelligence pick
Even before Democrats won control of the House, reports surfaced that Mrs. Pelosi would skip over Rep. Jane Harman of California, the highest ranking Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and opt instead for Rep. Alcee L. Hastings of Florida or Silvestre Reyes of Texas, the second- and third-ranking on the panel.
Mrs. Harman is backed by many centrists and is seen as hawkish on defense matters, while Mr. Hastings has the support of the powerful Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) but is tainted by his impeachment and removal as a federal judge in 1989.
Mr. Reyes has the backing of many Hispanic members and of those who want a compromise candidate.
"Harman's well-known and quite respected by those involved in national security affairs," said Gary Schmitt, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a public policy group, and former minority staff director for the Senate intelligence panel.
"Hastings is obviously less well-known and given the impeachment is a far more problematic choice for chairman. ... His record is one that's going to give the intelligence community something of a pause."
A choice to sidestep Mrs. Harman would be portrayed by Republicans as the second bad political move on Mrs. Pelosi's part, after her decision to back Rep. John P. Murtha in his failed bid to become House majority leader.
"It shows very flawed judgment on her part," Rep. Ray LaHood of Illinois, the second-ranking Republican on the intelligence panel said of a possible Hastings choice. "Her first flawed judgment was backing [Murtha]."
Mr. LaHood said Mrs. Harman "deserves to be chair. She has earned her stripes; she has done the hard work." He said Mr. Hastings has paid attention to intelligence issues as well but simply doesn't have Mrs. Harman's experience.