After Nancy Pelosi: a race in San Francisco "that will not be named"

SAN FRANCISCO — Nancy Pelosi has made two very different, almost irreconcilable statements about her political future. In 2018, she pro...


SAN FRANCISCO — Nancy Pelosi has made two very different, almost irreconcilable statements about her political future.

In 2018, she promised that 2022 would be her last year as House Democratic leader, access a term limit to quell an uprising and secure a second term as president. In January, she announced she was running for another two-year term in the House.

With the House passing the sweeping measure to tackle climate change and prescription drug prices on Friday — “a glorious day for us,” Ms Pelosi rejoiced — and her China-defying trip to Taiwan serving cornerstone of her diplomatic career, the question of what comes next for Ms Pelosi is only intensifying.

Will she push to stay on as president if Democrats somehow hold the House? Or, if the Republicans take control, will she simply retire?

She could break her 2018 promise and seek to remain Democratic leader in the minority. Those close to him describe only one option as inconceivable: a demotion to backbench.

Ms Pelosi, 82, avoided discussing her plans last November and declined to be interviewed. A spokesman, Drew Hammill, issued the same terse statement he made previously: “The speaker is not in office,” he said. “She’s on a mission.

Some clues to Ms Pelosi’s future can be found closer to home in San Francisco – where the tantalizing possibility of the city’s first open congressional seat since the fall of the Soviet Union has become the political topic of the city. .

Potential candidates, union leaders, political strategists, donors and activists are already planning what a race to succeed him would look like – albeit almost entirely in secret, to avoid upsetting Ms Pelosi, who clearly did knowing that she wanted to retire on her own terms.

“It’s really the campaign that won’t be named,” Dan Newman, a San Francisco-based Democratic operative, said of the early stampedes. “Nancy Pelosi is a force of nature, and no one wants to appear disrespectful or dismissive in any way.”

In interviews, more than a dozen officials said local Democrats were bracing for the possibility that Ms Pelosi might quit rather than stay and hand the gavel to a Republican. That would trigger a special election in San Francisco, held within 150 days — a sprint for what, given city politics, could amount to a de facto lifetime appointment to Congress.

Adding to the intrigue: A potential successor is Ms Pelosi’s daughter, Christine Pelosi, a party activist and member of the executive committee of the Democratic National Committee who serves as an adviser to her mother, has written a book about her and accompanies her often in local union halls, speeches and parades. She broadcasts her opinions online from a Twitter handle, @sfpelosiwhich could at a glance be mistaken for the one his mother might use.

Ms Pelosi’s eldest decision and its timing are intertwined with questions of power, legacy and dynasty, and how well a notoriously competitive public figure can handle her exit.

There’s the politics of Washington, too: Ms Pelosi called herself a ‘bridge to the next generation of leaders’ four years ago, signaling her desire for her departure to coincide with those of her fellow octogenarian lieutenants, Representatives Steny Hoyer , 83, and James Clyburn. , 82. Neither accepted.

In San Francisco, likewise, the Pelosi name remains beloved, but there is no guarantee of a controlled succession.

A popular state senator, Scott Wiener, whose district overlaps that of Ms Pelosi, is widely seen as laying the groundwork for a campaign. Mr. Wiener has spent nearly $2.5 million on his re-election bid and wooed his supporters under the guise of good politics, though his ambitions to become San Francisco’s first openly gay congressman are an open secret.

In an interview at a Brazilian pastry shop, the 6-foot-7 Mr. Wiener refused to even address the possibility of a post-Pelosi era. “The longer she stays, the better it is for our country,” he said. “I’m on Nancy’s team.”

It was a comment worthy of what Tony Winnicker, a longtime local Democratic strategist, called “the first rule of wanting to run for Nancy Pelosi’s seat.”

“You never talk about it in a way that suggests Nancy will ever leave,” he said.

Christine Pelosi also declined to comment.

As the former chairwoman of the state’s Democratic Party women’s caucus, the young Ms Pelosi, 56, has been outspoken in the fight against sexual harassment.

Increasingly, she and Mr Wiener, 52, cross paths at local events, such as a Pride breakfast where he and eldest Mrs Pelosi both gave speeches. “It’s been a family affair for us for over 30 years,” Nancy Pelosi said, acknowledging her daughter’s presence. (She also recognized Mr. Wiener.)



How Times reporters cover politics.
We rely on our journalists to be independent observers. So, while Times staffers can vote, they are not allowed to support or campaign for political candidates or causes. This includes participating in marches or rallies in support of a movement or donating money or raising funds for any political candidate or electoral cause.

Just as she did in Washington, where she outlived a generation of potential male successors – Rahm Emanuel, Chris Van Hollen and Joseph Crowley among them – Ms Pelosi has kept an array of ambitious local officials on ice since 1987.

Willie Brown, the former mayor of San Francisco, said these House planning campaigns were smart to begin with, if somewhat premature. In an interview over lunch, he speculated that Ms Pelosi would eventually prove a powerful ally for his daughter.

“If her mother isn’t around, Christine would be a terrific candidate,” Mr Brown said. “Because her mother would make her a formidable candidate.”

Few expect the speaker to reveal her intentions before November. Doing so sooner could reduce his influence over the House Democratic majority, not to mention his fundraising power. She’s hosting a major donor retreat in Napa next weekend, including a cocktail party at her house.

Whenever her seat in the House opens, it will be an opportunity not only to succeed the first female speaker in US history, but also to represent a city that has long outgrown its political clout. nationwide, despite having a smaller population than Columbus, Ohio.

Today, the No. 2 and No. 3 leaders of the presidential succession — Vice President Kamala Harris, once the city’s district attorney, and Ms. Pelosi — both cut their teeth politically in San Francisco. Emerging Democrats in the city’s notoriously fierce liberal politics, from Gov. Gavin Newsom to Sen. Dianne Feinstein to Ms. Pelosi, have found ways to appease the often warring factions of the Democratic Party.

“Fighting gives you muscle,” said Debra Walker, an artist and activist who served as president of the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club. Ms Walker was appointed to the San Francisco Police Commission in June as Mayor London Breed sought to defuse an explosion between the police department and the city’s annual Pride Parade organizers, who had sought to ban officers from marching in uniform.

Even among Ms Pelosi’s friends and allies, some have wondered if Christine Pelosi, who wrote a campaign book but she herself has never stood for election, is sufficiently prepared.

“I would rather see Christine start at the state level than in Congress,” said Joe Cotchett, a major Democratic donor and friend of the family.

Mr Cotchett expected Nancy Pelosi to be supportive of his daughter, up to a point. “Do I think Nancy will push her? Emotionally, she’s his daughter,” he said. “But I don’t think Nancy is the kind of person who would step in and try to stop anyone from showing up.”

While elder Ms Pelosi is known for her deft relationship management, that has been less true for Christine, whose years as an activist have included pushing for DNC resolutions – trying to ban corporate contributions, demanding a debate on the climate in 2020 – sometimes to exasperation. party officials.

Her last name has isolated her from public criticism, but hidden frustrations have been building, according to half a dozen officials on both coasts.

She upset Newsom’s team, for example, when she suggested during the 2021 encore that Mr Newsom is expected to resign if he looked likely to lose. Publicly, she sought to undermine Mr Newsom’s central strategy to label the recall as a Republican power grab. Privately, she was texting Mr Newsom directly complaining about his tactics, according to two people briefed on the messages she had sent.

Mr. Newsom overcame the rappel in a landslide.

In a city where politics is often personal and hectic, Mr. Wiener has also racked up criticism.

“People talk about it all the time,” Mike Casey, president of the San Francisco Labor Council, said of the race to succeed Ms Pelosi. “But mostly, like, who do we not want. Like Scott Wiener really got into the trades and a number of our bad sides.

And while Mr. Wiener and Ms. Pelosi are progressives by any national metric, neither would necessarily satisfy the city’s ideological purists, a wing that could also field a candidate. “I didn’t rule it out,” said Jane Kim, a 45-year-old former supervisor and executive director of the California Working Families Party.

Jen Snyder, a San Francisco-based strategist who works with progressives, might generate little enthusiasm for a Pelosi-Wiener contest.

“It will be Mothra versus Godzilla,” Ms. Snyder said. “Guess I’ll be on the sidelines eating popcorn.”

Another possible candidate is Ms Breed, the first black woman to serve as mayor. She has indicated she is not interested in a run for Congress, according to people close to her.

“I can tell you that as a friend of hers, she’s not,” said local PR veteran Lee Houskeeper, who joined Mr Brown for the lunch interview.

“I can tell you that as a friend of hers, she better be,” Mr. Brown said.

Clint Reilly, who led Ms Pelosi’s campaign for Congress in 1987 and has known her family ever since, initially declined to speak. “Leave me alone!” he insisted. “They won’t be satisfied with what I say!” »

But Mr Reilly, an investor who now owns The San Francisco Examiner, agreed to talk, including how Ms Pelosi won that first race, beating gay rival Harry Britt, who ran to her left, in a multi-candidate scrum.

Its prophetic slogan: “A voice that will be heard”.

If the Democrats lose in November, Mr. Reilly said, “most people would call it then.” But not necessarily Ms. Pelosi. “She loves the game,” he said. “She hates losing.”

“How does it end?” he thought. “I don’t think she knows the answer.”



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Newsrust - US Top News: After Nancy Pelosi: a race in San Francisco "that will not be named"
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