SAN FRANCISCO — Sorry, Scott Wiener.
Wiener, who represents the city in the state Senate, was actively preparing to run as her replacement — but switched gears Friday to issuing effusive praise following her announcement.
“Speaker Emerita Pelosi is one of the most talented and transformational leaders of our lifetime, and it’s a good thing for San Francisco and the nation that she will continue to serve our community,” he said in a written statement that included announcing his own plan to seek reelection to the state Senate.
Pelosi’s announcement, following months of whispered chatter about her plans, prompted a cascade of congratulations among her many admirers in this liberal city. The unspoken reality: Politicians interested in Pelosi’s seat, or other opportunities that her retirement would open, also must put their plans on hold.
It also sparked fresh speculation about the implications of Pelosi’s move for her daughter Christine, who will now have more time to prepare for a widely expected run.
“It means the logjam at the top of the hierarchy of San Francisco politics stays in place,” said San Francisco political consultant Jim Ross.
San Francisco’s politics are both proudly progressive and ferociously competitive — a reflection of the finite seats available in a city brimming with ambitious Democrats.
No question has preoccupied the city’s political class in recent years quite like the Pelosi retirement conundrum. She has held the city’s sole House seat for 36 years. When she took office in 1987, San Francisco’s current state legislators were not old enough to vote.
Prospective candidates “have made their ambitions known, and that’s all appropriate, but it was all conditioned on whether Nancy Pelosi would run for another term,” said former state Sen. Mark Leno, who had held Wiener’s seat.
Knowing Pelosi might be on her way out, Wiener had opened an exploratory committee and begun consolidating support for a House run. Wiener stuck to his characteristic Pelosi hosannas on Friday.
Wiener’s decision will ripple down the political ladder.
Assemblymember Matt Haney, who might have run for Wiener’s Senate seat, confirmed he would instead seek re-election in 2024.
San Francisco Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, who had previously announced a bid for Haney’s Assembly seat, said he was happy “to get to continue to do the best job I’ve ever had” as a city official.
Both Haney and Mandelman lauded Pelosi. Haney noted the former speaker would remain in Congress “with the threats to our democracy as real as ever,” while Mandelman said “we are fortunate she is signing up for one more tour of duty.”
San Francisco Democratic Party Chair Honey Mahogany, who also had been weighing a run for the Assembly, said Pelosi’s choice will mean she can use her clout to help San Francisco obtain more federal resources to revive its downtown and help Democrats nationally as one of the party’s most prolific fundraisers.
Any disappointed would-be candidates shouldn’t fret, Mahogany said. “For now, we all get to take a deep breath and better prepare for when that seat opens up.”
The sentiment reflected, in part, an overarching political reality: Former President Donald Trump is comfortably leading other Republicans in the polls and is likely to again be his party’s nominee. Few politicians have opposed him as effectively as Pelosi.
Pelosi’s decision may have also scrambled city politics in her hometown. Ross predicted that some potential House contenders might refocus their efforts on ousting beleaguered Mayor London Breed, who is up for reelection in 2024.
“It kind of creates a situation where people go find something else to run for,” Ross said.
But Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, a potential mayoral contender, said he’s doubtful the news will shake up the mayor’s race. If anything, he said, Pelosi’s announcement prevents the political instability of a mass reshuffling.
“From a local perspective, the last thing San Francisco needs right now is a game of musical political chairs,” he said. “Everybody and their sister are jockeying for this seat and that seat. I can’t tell you the number of politicians who are lined up.”
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