WASHINGTON (KRON/AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who represents most of San Francisco in the lower chamber of the U.S. Congress and was the first woman to serve as speaker, announced she will not seek re-election to the Democratic Party leadership in the next Congress but will stay on in the legislative body.
Pelosi stated that it’s time for a new generation to step up.
“Now we must move boldly into the future,” Pelosi said.
“I will not seek reelection to Democratic leadership in the next Congress,” Pelosi added. “For me, the hour has come for a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus that I so deeply respect.”
Despite the speakership, the greatest honor she has is representing the City By The Bay in the House, the 82-year-old said.
It was 20 years ago this month that Pelosi became the first woman to be elected to party leadership in Congress. In 2007 she became the first woman to be elected speaker.
Pelosi paid tribute to her father, the late Rep. Thomas D’Alesandro Jr. (D-Md.), the son of Italian immigrants, who from 1939 to 1947 was one of the first Italian Americans in the U.S. Congress. She said the first time she saw the United States Capitol was with him.
“This is the most beautiful building in the world because of what it represents,” Pelosi said, regarding the Capitol building, where she has worked for over 35 years.
Pelosi characterized last week’s election results as a defense of “the rule of law itself,” as many of former President Donald Trump’s endorsed candidates for election lost, particularly those who embraced his lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.
Pelosi mentioned her work securing investments in clean energy during the Bush administration and enacting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act during the Obama administration.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, the former San Francisco mayor was once related to Pelosi by marriage, called her “the model of dedicated public service” in a statement.
“Speaker Pelosi has never wavered in the fight to better our nation, even in the face of opposition or hate,” Newsom stated. “Time and again, she has delivered for California and for the nation, often in the face of unspeakable odds. Her career in Congress, and as speaker, has been a masterclass in powerful, empathetic leadership, guided by her strong moral compass and unmatched political skill. During her three decades of service in the House, Speaker Pelosi has shaped California and the nation for the better – and generations to come will benefit from her work.”
Pelosi made her announcement after the Democrats lost control of the House in last week’s elections.
Pelosi’s decision to either seek another term as the Democratic leader or to step aside has been widely anticipated.
It comes after the party was able to halt an expected Republican wave in the House and the Senate but also in the aftermath of a brutal attack on her husband, Paul, late last month by an intruder in their San Francisco home.
“The speaker plans to address her future plans tomorrow to her colleagues. Stay tuned,” Pelosi’s spokesman Drew Hammill tweeted late Wednesday.
The speaker “has been overwhelmed by calls from colleagues, friends and supporters,” Hammill said, and noted that she had spent Wednesday evening monitoring election returns in the final states where ballots were still being counted.
The California Democrat, who rose to become the nation’s first woman to wield the speaker’s gavel, is a pivotal figure in U.S. politics.
Pelosi’s leadership team, with Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland and Democratic Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina, has long moved as a triumvirate. Hoyer and Clyburn are also making decisions about their futures.
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All now in their 80s, the three House Democratic leaders have faced restless colleagues eager for them to step aside and allow a new generation to take charge.
Democrats Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts and Rep. Pete Aguilar of California have similarly moved as a trio at times, all working toward leadership roles themselves.
First elected to the House in 1987, Pelosi has long been ridiculed by Republicans as a San Francisco liberal while steadily rising as a skilled legislator and fundraising powerhouse. Her own Democratic colleagues have intermittently appreciated but also feared Pelosi’s powerful brand of leadership.