By Mike Lillis - 10/24/12 09:24 PM EDT
House Democrats will hold their leadership elections after the Thanksgiving break, a leadership aide announced Wednesday.
That date is much later than the schedule adopted by Republicans, who have indicated they'll finalize their leadership slots the week before the Thanksgiving holiday.
The distinction has stirred some speculation that Pelosi might be preparing to step down after 25 years on Capitol Hill, and that she plans to use her return in the lame-duck session to groom a challenger to Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who is eager to move up the ladder.
A second House leadership aide rejected the notion that there was any delay. The aide said the party's election calendar had never been set and the Nov. 29 date was chosen simply to coincide with the second week of orientation for newly elected members.
Pelosi, meanwhile, has been silent about her post-election plans. She says she is focused solely on putting the House gavel back into the hands of the Democrats on Nov. 6 — a difficult task that few outside the party think she'll achieve.
Pelosi has been the House Democratic leader for a decade — the longest such stint in more than 50 years — and the younger generation of potential Democratic leaders has been waiting anxiously to learn her post-election plans.
"Certainly we will see a generational shift, and that will be good," Pelosi told reporters somewhat cryptically last month during the Democratic convention in Charlotte, N.C.
She did not, however, say when that shift would happen.
Aside from Hoyer, Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), the third-ranking Democrat, has indicated he's not yet ready to step away from leadership next year.
Clyburn initially challenged Hoyer for the No. 2 spot after Democrats were trounced at the polls in 2010. The race, however, was called off after Pelosi offered the South Carolina Democrat the third-ranking leadership spot. Clyburn said earlier this year that he "might" try to seek a higher leadership post following this year's elections.
"I’m not closing the door on anything,” he said in May.
Meanwhile, Pelosi has singled out several younger Democrats as being the likely leaders of the future.
They include Reps. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), the ranking member of the Budget Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), the head of the Democratic National Committee, and Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraHouse panel moves bill to ban IRS from tracking donors to tax-exempt groups Dems bullish on immigration case House GOP comes to terms with prospect of no budget MORE (Calif.), the vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.
But aside from Becerra, who is widely expected to rise to caucus chairman next year, it's unclear where the others would fall.
Wasserman Schultz's office this month took away at least one post-election scenario.
“Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz has absolutely no intention of challenging Steny Hoyer,” a spokesman said.
This article was updated Oct. 27 at 10:33 a.m.