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Murtha will run for House leadership if Dems win this fall

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Rep. John Murtha, D-Pennsylvania, has been an outspoken opponent of the war in Iraq.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Rep. John Murtha, an outspoken opponent of the war in Iraq, announced Friday that he would run for majority leader if the Democrats take over the House in the fall elections.

"If we prevail as I hope and know we will, and return to the majority this next Congress, I have decided to run for the open seat of the majority leader," Murtha said in a letter to his Democratic colleagues.

"I would appreciate your consideration and vote and look forward to speaking to you personally about my decision."

Murtha's spokeswoman, Cindy Abram, provided a copy of the letter to CNN.

There was no immediate comment on Murtha's announcement from the current minority leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California.

If the Democrats take control of the House in November, Pelosi likely would become speaker, leaving the majority leader position open.

Current minority whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland said Friday that he too intends to seek the leadership job should the Democrats win control of the House.

"Mr. Hoyer worked extraordinarily hard to unify the caucus and take back the House for Democrats, and that is his first focus," said his spokeswoman Stacey Bernards. "As a result of that unity, Mr. Hoyer is confident that we will be successful in November and he intends to run for Majority Leader. He believes that his work as Whip, Caucus Chair ... has earned him the support of the overwhelming majority of House Democrats."

Murtha, from Pennsylvania, is a decorated former Marine colonel who has been critical of the Bush administration's handling of the war in Iraq. He supported the invasion in 2003, but last November he distanced himself from the administration and called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops because of what he called "a flawed policy wrapped in illusion."

CNN's Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.

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