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Shuler: I'll Challenge Pelosi for Democratic Leader

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Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi faces a leadership challenge from Rep. Heath Shuler, a moderate Democrat from North Carolina. (AP)

North Carolina Rep. Heath Shuler told Fox News on Monday he is following through with his vow to challenge Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the role of the House's top Democrat when the party moves into the minority in the next Congress.

Shuler said he's making good on his campaign promise to challenge Pelosi for minority leader, adding that he's had a respectful relationship with Pelosi but would always be direct with her.

It's an uphill battle, he acknowledged, but the Democrats lost in the recent midterm elections, and he thinks Pelosi is partly responsible for that loss.

The challenge comes as House Democrats recently avoided a messy leadership struggle between Reps. Steny Hoyer of Maryland and James Clyburn of South Carolina for the No. 2 post of their new minority. Pelosi brokered a deal that will allow Hoyer to become second in command while Clyburn receives a new position that will be labeled the third-ranking post in leadership.

But several Democrats, most of them moderates from conservative districts, have made clear that they won't support Pelosi's leadership bid after their party suffered historic losses to Republicans last week. 

Democrats lost more than 60 seats, with a few races still up in the air. Many of the defeats came in conservative or swing districts and many of her critics are lawmakers who barely survived.

Party elections, which occurs behind closed doors, are scheduled for Wednesday.

Pelosi's quick postelection announcement that she would run for minority leader startled many Democrats.

Rep. Dan Boren of Oklahoma told Fox News last week that voters sent a message that they want the Democratic Party to move in a new direction.

"They want someone to lead the party who is going to be bipartisan," he said. "This is very disappointing for a lot of us in the center."

Pelosi told NPR on Friday that she decided to run so she can finish what she started.

"My motivation for running is to be in the strongest possible position to create jobs, to continue the work we did in the previous administration, to preserve Social Security, to protect what we did for health care reform and Wall Street reform," she told the network.

She also blamed the high unemployment rate for last week's election results.

"We didn't lose the election because of me," she said, adding that she believes she has been widely attacked because of her effectiveness as speaker.

"The reason they had to try to take me down is because I've been effective in fighting the special interests in Washington, D.C.," she said.

Fox News' Chad Pergram contributed to this report.