WASHINGTON, Nov. 6 (UPI) -- Missouri Rep. Richard Gephardt will not seek another term as leader of the Democrats in the House of Representatives, a source in his office confirmed Wednesday evening.
The move -- expected to be announced at a press conference Thursday -- follows criticism from some Democrats about the performance of their leadership in Tuesday's midterm elections.
Despite the historical precedents -- the party in power in the White House normally loses during off year elections -- the GOP tightened its control of the House and seized control of the Senate as well.
Tuesday's poll was Gephardt's fourth straight failure to retake control of the House.
Rep. Harold Ford, D-Ky., told a radio interviewer that some in the caucus were starting to "ask some tough questions" about Gephardt's leadership.
"It's obvious that we need some fresh faces and in some cases, fresh ideas," he told syndicated talk show host Don Imus.
But others said the explanation for the GOP's win lay with the president's last-minute campaigning rather than the Democrat's own leadership failures.
"If the Republicans had an edge over us yesterday, it was tactical ..." Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe said. "Ultimately, many of our candidates couldn't overcome the political muscle that carried many Republicans over the finish line.
"They had a wartime president with the highest sustained approval ratings in history, who made these elections his number one domestic priority. He spent the year raising record amounts of money and the final three weeks stumping relentlessly for Republican candidates."
According to his Web site, Gephardt was elected by his colleagues to serve as Democratic leader, the top Democratic post in the House, in 1994.
He was first elected to represent Missouri's third congressional district in 1976, and served on both the Ways and Means and Budget Committees. In 1984, he was elected Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, the fourth-ranking leadership post in the House.
In 1987, Gephardt became the first Democratic candidate to enter the 1988 presidential race. In 1989 he was elected as majority leader, the second ranking position in the Democratic hierarchy in the House.