WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Nancy Pelosi told fellow Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday that she is willing to run to be their leader again.
Seen as a crusading reformer by backers and a reckless liberal by Republican critics, Pelosi, 72, announced her decision later at a news conference at the U.S. Capitol.
"I have made a decision to submit my name to my colleagues to serve once again as House Democratic Leader," she said to the cheers of dozens of Democratic women now in the House.
Democratic lawmakers and aides said Pelosi, who 10 years ago became the first woman to lead a party in Congress, is a cinch to be re-elected House minority leader.
In 2007, Pelosi became the first and only woman speaker of the House. Her historic four-year period as speaker ended in January 2011, two months after Republicans won back the chamber.
Pelosi had been mum for months on whether she would seek the job if Democrats failed to win back the chamber from Republicans in last week's election.
Democrats picked up a half dozen seats, but fell short of the net gain of 25 that was needed to retake the chamber, which Republicans won two years ago.
As of early Wednesday, Pelosi's decision on whether to seek another term as House Democratic leader remained a well-kept secret with top aides saying they did not know what she would do.
But shortly after the closed door meeting began, aides said she had told her fellow Democrats she was ready to stay and lead them for at least another two years.
She also made it clear that Representative Steve Israel will remain with her as chairman of the House Democratic Campaign Committee, which did better than many experts had predicted in this year's election.
(Reporting By Thomas Ferraro; Editing by Fred Barbash and Doina Chiacu)
(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2012. Check for restrictions at: http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp