- March 26 is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s 79th birthday.
- Despite first running for office at age 47, Pelosi has managed to become the most powerful woman in Washington.
- It’s been a long road, but with impressive fundraising skills and a political sixth sense, Pelosi has managed to break gender barriers and break her way into the notorious old boys’ club on Capitol Hill.
- Here’s how Pelosi became the most powerful female politician in US history.
Pelosi grew up in Baltimore, the daughter of the Democratic Mayor Thomas D’Alesandro Jr. As a young girl, she managed her father’s book of people who owed him political favors.
She attended her first Democratic National Convention at age 12. Here she is at age 20 with John F. Kennedy at his inaugural ball.
Source: Nancy Pelosi Biography
Pelosi met her husband, Paul, at Georgetown University. She was a mother of five by 1969, when the family moved to San Francisco. Paul worked as a banker, while Nancy raised their children and started a Democratic Party club at her home.
Source: U.S. News
In 1976, she worked for the presidential campaign of California Gov. Jerry Brown, and by 1981, she was the Democratic Party chair for the state of California, working behind the scenes to recruit candidates and raise money in the left-leaning state.
At age 47, after her youngest child had left for college, Pelosi was encouraged by a dying congresswoman to run for her seat. She threw 100 house parties, recruited 4,000 volunteers, and raised $1 million in seven weeks.
Source: Baltimore Sun
She defeated a San Francisco supervisor in a special election, winning one of the most solidly Democratic seats in the country. In June 1978, she was sworn in with her father by her side.
With innate political acumen, Pelosi rose fast in the Democratic caucus. Here she is with former California Rep. Leon Panetta, who would go on to serve as secretary of Defense and director of the CIA.
One of Pelosi's earliest and most prominent financial backers is E & J Gallo Winery, which produces 25% of the wine in America. The Pelosis own two vineyards in California.
Source: Extra TV
Pelosi knew California Sen. Dianne Feinstein as a neighbor years before they became two of the most powerful women in Congress. Here they are hanging out after Feinstein lost the California gubernatorial election in 1990.
As the member of the House from San Francisco, Pelosi took the lead on LGBT rights and the AIDS crisis back when those were unpopular topics nationally.
Pelosi was also one of the House architects behind the 1994 assault-weapons ban, along with Feinstein and then Rep. Chuck Schumer.
Pelosi was also put on the powerful House Appropriations and Intelligence committees, and was the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Operations committee. Here she is with then Rep. Barney Frank at a 1995 news conference.
Here she is promoting public television with a creepy Ernie.
Paul Pelosi has managed to avoid the spotlight, focusing on his real-estate and venture-capital business Financial Leasing Services Inc. He also owns the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the United Football League.
Pelosi got a big promotion in 2001, when she was named the House Democratic whip, the No. 2 job in the party.
After raising $1.8 million for Democrats through her leadership PAC in 2002, Pelosi got the top job when Dick Gephardt stepped down as minority leader. She was the first woman to ever lead a party in Congress.
In 2006, she teamed up with Schumer, then Sen. Harry Reid, and then Rep. Rahm Emanuel to hatch a plan to take back Congress ...
... and it totally worked! Democrats won the majority in both chambers, and Pelosi became the first female speaker of the House.
In the first 100 hours of being speaker in 2006, Pelosi raised the minimum wage, enacted the 9/11 commission report, ended many tax subsidies to oil companies, and made new rules about lobbying.
Her work ethic is legendary. She barely sleeps, doesn't drink coffee — she prefers hot water with lemon — does The New York Times crossword daily, and often eats New York Super Fudge Chunk ice cream for breakfast.
During the divisive 2008 Democratic presidential primary, Pelosi managed to stay neutral without losing friends.
And she ran the show at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
Pelosi steered the passage of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) bank bailout in a last-ditch effort to stop the 2008 financial collapse.
After Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008, Democrats controlled Congress and the White House for the first time in 14 years.
Pelosi convinced Obama to move forward with healthcare reform when all seemed lost in 2009. It worked.
But Democrats lost control of the House, and Pelosi handed over the gavel to Republican John Boehner in 2010.
Despite her diminished role, Pelosi was still a major power player in DC, having spent a decade as the top House Democrat.
Pelosi once again became House minority leader and remained a close ally to Obama during his second term.
Pelosi led the House Democrats through the 2013 shutdown, during which she said Republicans were "legislative arsonists" for using healthcare as an excuse to shut down the government.
In 2016, Rep. Tim Ryan challenged Pelosi's speaker seat, but he lost 134 to 63.
As House minority leader, Pelosi became a chief Trump critic. In 2017, she led the House's charge against Trump's decision to shut down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
In response, Trump has called her "High Tax, High Crime Nancy Pelosi" and "MS-13 Lover Nancy Pelosi."
Pelosi has clashed with Trump in the last few years, most recently during a televised meeting between them and Schumer over the border wall. In that meeting and for weeks since, Pelosi said Democrats will not offer funding for the wall.
Pelosi was sworn in as speaker of the House for a second time as the government shutdown nears its third week. She said Democrats have legislation prepared to reopen the government.
She regained her position as speaker of the House only eight years after leaving it.
So far, Pelosi has focused on the Democrats' legislative priorities and has publicly stated she isn't interested in impeaching Trump, saying "I don't think we should go down that path, because it divides the country. And he's just not worth it."
She's also had to mediate controversy within her own caucus after freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar made a series of comments about pro-Israel lobbying widely criticized as anti-Semitic.
Source: Business Insider
Now, Pelosi is gearing up to lead Congress in a fight with the Department of Justice over the full release of special counsel Robert Mueller's report into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Source: Business Insider
Pelosi recently stated she won't accept a classified congressional briefing on the report's contents, calling for the report and all its underlying evidence to be released to Congress and to the public.
Source: Business Insider
In a Tuesday meeting, she reportedly advised fellow Democrats to "be calm" and "take a deep breath," adding "we have to handle this professionally, officially, patriotically, strategically. Let’s just get the goods."
As for the 2020 presidential election, Pelosi said she won't endorse a candidate — yet.