Mary Anne Marsh: Never underestimate Nancy Pelosi

Originally published on

Never underestimate a woman – especially Nancy Pelosi, the first woman to serve as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and once the most powerful female elected official in American history. Now she is poised to claim those titles again in January.

Pelosi, a California Democrat representing San Francisco, was speaker of the House from 2007 to 2011. She has been House minority leader since 2011, when Republicans gained majority control of the chamber.

But on Tuesday, everything changed when voters elected enough Democrats to make them the majority party in the House again when those elected Tuesday take office two months from now.

If Pelosi can overcome opposition by some Democrats who want a younger party leader and is elected to become speaker again, she will be the first person to return to the speakership after losing it since Rep. Sam Rayburn, D-Texas, accomplished the feat in 1955.

No one has ever returned to the speakership for a second time after being in the minority for eight years.

Pelosi didn’t rise as far as she did in politics by chance. No one in Washington understands politics and power better than she does.

Pelosi was born into a Democratic political family and grew up in Baltimore surrounded by politics. Her father, Thomas D’Alesandro, served in the U.S. House and as mayor of Baltimore. Her brother also served as mayor of Baltimore.

While she was in college Pelosi worked as an intern in the Senate and attended the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy in 1961. She has been a member of the House since 1987.

A progressive who knows how to play hardball, Pelosi knows how to count votes, be practical, and get things done. No one in the House raises more money for Democratic candidates nor understands what it takes to win races better than she does.

And no one knows how to get legislation passed better than Pelosi. She is the reason ObamaCare won approval in Congress – President Obama has said that. Pelosi is the one who came up with the strategy, wrangled the votes and made it possible for the Affordable Care Act to become law.

Health care was the most important issue to voters in Tuesday’s midterm elections, exit polling showed, helping Democrats again take control of the House.

When Pelosi was speaker she ran the Democratic caucus far more effectively, and with more accomplishments, than did her two Republican successors – Rep. John Boehner of Ohio and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

Under Pelosi’s speakership and in her time as minority leader, House Democrats have been united and worked together to get things done. During her tenure as the minority leader during the first two years of the Trump presidency, not one Democrat defected on votes involving ObamaCare and the tax code. Not one.

Boehner and Ryan were driven from the speakership by their caucus. Pelosi is expected to return as speaker.

In every election in modern times, Republicans have attacked women like Pelosi when they campaign against Democrats. It may help Republicans raise money, but it cost them votes on Tuesday. In fact, it cost them the House.

More than 100 women were elected to Congress this week. And it’s one more reason I believe Pelosi will be speaker. With President Trump in office and with women under attack by him since he started his campaign for president, most women voters are supporting Democrats and more women are running for elective office.

Finally, earlier this year Pelosi delivered an eight-hour speech in four-inch heels on the House floor about Dreamers. In doing so, Pelosi broke a 109-year record for the longest floor speech.

So by every measure – politics, governing, legislating and stamina – Pelosi has broken all records.

And as President Trump will learn with the start of the next session of Congress in January, Speaker Nancy Pelosi will not be someone he can dominate with bullying, insults of threats. If he makes the mistake of underestimating her, he will regret it.

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