Nancy Patricia D'Alesandro Pelosi (born March 26, 1940) is the Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives and served as the 60th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 2007 to 2011. She was the first woman to hold the office and to-date has been the highest-ranking female politician in American history. A member of the Democratic Party, Pelosi has represented the 8th Congressional District of California, which consists of four-fifths of the City and County of San Francisco, since 1987. The district was numbered as the 5th during Pelosi's first three terms in the House. She served as the House Minority Whip from 2002 to 2003, and was House Minority Leader from 2003 to 2007, holding the post during the 108th and 109th Congresses. Pelosi is the first woman, the first Californian and first Italian-American to lead a major party in Congress. After the Democrats took control of the House in 2007 and increased their majority in 2009, Pelosi was elected Speaker of the House for the 110th and 111th sessions of Congress. On November 17, 2010, Pelosi was elected as the Democratic Leader by House Democrats and therefore the Minority Leader in the Republican-controlled House for the 112th Congress.
Early life and career
Pelosi was born in Baltimore, Maryland. The youngest of six children, she was involved with politics from an early age. Her father, Thomas D'Alesandro, Jr., was a U.S. Congressman from Maryland and a Mayor of Baltimore. Her brother, Thomas D'Alesandro III, also a Democrat, was mayor of Baltimore from 1967 to 1971, when he declined to run for a second term.
She graduated from the Institute of Notre Dame, a Catholic all-girls high school in Baltimore, and from Trinity College (now Trinity Washington University) in Washington, D.C. in 1962. Pelosi interned for Senator Daniel Brewster (D-Maryland) alongside future House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. She met Paul Frank Pelosi (b. April 15, 1940 in San Francisco, California) while she was attending Trinity College. They married in a Catholic church on September 7, 1963. After the couple married they moved to New York, and then to San Francisco in 1969, where Mr. Pelosi's brother, Ronald Pelosi was a member of the City and County of San Francisco's Board of Supervisors. After moving to San Francisco, Pelosi worked her way up in Democratic politics. She was elected as party chairwoman for Northern California on January 30, 1977. She later joined forces with one of the leaders of the California Democratic Party, 5th District Congressman Phillip Burton. In 1987, after her youngest child became a high school senior, she decided to run for political office. Nancy Pelosi is a board member of the National Organization of Italian American Women. She lives in the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco.
Pelosi has five children: Nancy Corinne, Christine, Jacqueline, Paul, and Alexandra, as well as seven grandchildren. Alexandra, a journalist, covered the Republican presidential campaigns in 2000 and made a film about the experience, Journeys with George.
In 2007, Christine published a book, Campaign Boot Camp: Basic Training for Future Leaders.
Phillip Burton died in 1983 and was succeeded by his wife, Sala. In late 1986, Sala became ill with cancer and decided not to run for reelection in 1988. She picked Pelosi as her designated successor, guaranteeing her the support of the Burtons' contacts. Sala died on February 1, 1987, just a month after being sworn in for a second full term. Pelosi won the special election to succeed her, narrowly defeating San Francisco Supervisor Harry Britt on April 7, 1987, then easily defeating Republican candidate Harriet Ross on June 2, 1987; Pelosi took office a week later. Pelosi represents one of the safest Democratic districts in the country. Democrats have held the seat since 1949, and Republicans, who currently make up only 13 percent of registered voters in the district, have not made a serious bid for the seat since the early 1960s. Pelosi has kept this tradition going. She won the seat in her own right in 1988 and has been reelected 10 more times with no substantive opposition, winning by an average of 75 percent of the vote. She has not participated in candidates' debates since her 1987 race against Harriet Ross. She has the distinction of contributing the most among members of Congress to other congressional campaigns because she is in a safe district and does not need the campaign funds. In the House, she served on the Appropriations and Intelligence Committees, and was the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee until her election as Minority Leader.
Democratic Party leadership
In 2001, Pelosi was elected the House Minority Whip, second-in-command to Minority Leader Dick Gephardt of Missouri. She was the first woman in U.S. history to hold that post. In 2002, after Gephardt resigned as minority leader to seek the Democratic nomination in the 2004 presidential election, Pelosi was elected to replace him, becoming the first woman to lead a major party in the House.
Political positions and voting record
Pelosi was a founding member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, but left in 2003 after being elected Minority Leader. Her longtime friend, Jim McDermott of Washington, told Newsweek that he and other left-leaning Democratic congressmen sometimes wish that "she would tilt a little more our way from time to time". As Speaker, Pelosi has tried to focus more on economic than social issues. In San Francisco, Pelosi has experienced conflicts with anti-war activists. Nonetheless, she has never faced a serious challenger in the Democratic primary or from the Green Party, which is competitive in local elections. On September 2, 2008, she visited Hiroshima, Japan, for a G8 summit meeting of lower house speakers and offered flowers in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park for the victims of the 1945 atomic bombing. While many world leaders have visited Hiroshima over the years, she is the highest-ever sitting U.S. official to pay her respects.
February 18, 2010