John Murtha is in the race of his life against Lt. Col Bill Russell. He’s desperate for cash and he’s begging for help from any Democrat who will listen. According to Roll Call($), there’s at least one Democrat who wouldn’t spit on Murtha if the latter was on fire. That would be Steny Hoyer, who defeated Murtha for the post of Majority Leader in the House.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) is turning a blind eye to his one-time rival Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), even as the veteran lawmaker appeals for help in what’s become the political fight of his career.

In recent days, Murtha has been turning to his fellow lawmakers for money, and many have answered the call — flooding his coffers with more than $130,000 in past few days.

But Hoyer, who dueled with Murtha two years ago for the Majority Leader post, has not. That makes him the only elected member of House Democratic leadership yet to contribute to the Pennsylvania Democrat’s suddenly tight re-election battle.

Hoyer and Murtha’s bitter contest in 2006 divided the Caucus and prompted then Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to weigh in on behalf of Murtha, her longtime ally. Hoyer won the race by 63 votes in what Pelosi at the time acknowledged was a “stunning victory.” But tensions between Hoyer and Murtha have lingered.

I wonder what makes Hoyer feel secure in hanging Nancy Pelosi’s closest ally out to dry. Perhaps he’s confident Murtha won’t be coming back to D.C. to make his life uncomfortable any longer.

You can donate to Bill Russell here.