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Inside Politics

Pelosi predicts Democrats will take back House

From Ted Barrett
CNN Washington Bureau

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi
• The Candidates: Bush | Kerry
America Votes 2004
North Carolina
South Dakota

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Despite predictions to the contrary from most political experts, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi declared Thursday that Democrats will reclaim control of the House of Representatives in November and she will become the new speaker.

At a news conference with Rep. Bob Matsui, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Pelosi cited strong showings in various polls and victories in the last two special elections to bolster her assertion.

"We're putting our credibility on the line," she said. "We think if the election were held today there would be no question that the Democrats would take back the House."

Pelosi has thought this way for some time, said her press secretary, Jennifer Crider, but the California lawmaker decided to make public her prediction after House Democrats recently narrowed their fund-raising gap with House Republicans.

"We have to be on guard for the venom that the Republicans will pour into the races and, of course, the money that will accompany that," Pelosi said. "We're ready to fight. We believe the public wants to see more bipartisanship in Congress.

"They want to see problems solved and issues relevant to their lives addressed instead of taking up the time of the Congress with divisive measures that really have no impact on their lives," she said in an apparent reference to this week's battle in the Senate over a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

Democrats have won two special elections this year. In South Dakota, Rep. Stephanie Herseth won a June special election with 51 percent of the vote to replace Republican Rep. William J. Janklow, who resigned after his role in a fatal auto accident.

In February, Rep. Ben Chandler was elected, with 55 percent of the vote to fill the remainder of Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher's term

In his June 25 newsletter, political analyst Stuart Rothenberg wrote that Democrats "will need a wave to reach 218 seats," the magic number for control of the House.

"We still don't see empirical evidence that a wave is developing," Rothenberg said.

Republicans took control of the House in 1994. Currently, there are 228 Republicans and 205 Democrats in the House. Rep. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, organizes with the Democrats.

One seat remains open after Rep. Frank Ballance, D-North Carolina, resigned last month, citing health reasons

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