By Thomas Ferraro and Richard Cowan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Nancy Pelosi said she will announce on Wednesday if she will end her 10-year-run as the top Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives, which included a historic stint from 2007 to 2011 as the chamber's first and only woman speaker.
"I will see you 10 a.m., tomorrow, those of you who are interested," Pelosi told reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday after being asked about her political future.
Hailed as a crusading reformer yet denounced by Republicans as a reckless liberal, Pelosi, 72, will announce a long-awaited decision that has had much of Washington guessing.
After a second straight disappointing election last week, Pelosi will announce if she will run to again lead her party in the House next year - or step aside.
"Two weeks ago, all signs were that she was staying in leadership," said a senior Democratic aide. "She was completely engaged."
"But since the election, she's been wishy-washy," the aide said. "It's unclear what she will do."
Pelosi, first elected as House Democratic leader after the 2002 election, planned to announce her decision after a private meeting with House Democrats who saw their numbers increase by seven seats after last week's congressional election.
Still, they fell far short of the needed 25 to take back control of the House from Republicans.
After House Democrats lost 63 seats in the 2010 election, handing the chamber to Republicans and ending Pelosi's four-year reign as speaker, she was widely expected to step aside from leadership.
But she surprised many and was easily elected as House minority leader. Democrats said there is no doubt she would win again if she decided to stay.
"House Democrats are waiting to hear" what she decides to do, said Representative Steve Israel, head of the House Democratic campaign committee.
If Pelosi decides to step aside, she is likely to be replaced by the chamber's No. 2 Democrat, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer.
Some financial market analysts have been anxiously awaiting Pelosi's decision.
Analysts have said if Hoyer, who is seen as a moderate, were to become Democratic leader, it could be easier to reach a deal to cut entitlement programs, a key to reaching a bipartisan agreement on long-sought deficit reduction.
Whatever her decision, Pelosi has said she will complete her newly won 14th term as a congresswoman from San Francisco.
(Reporting by Thomas Ferraro; Editing by Fred Barbash and Christopher Wilson)
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