Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA), a longtime Bay Area lawmaker who has a member of the House since 2008, announced on Tuesday that she would not be running for reelection in 2022.
A graduate of UC Davis and UC Hastings College of the Law, Congresswoman Speier got her start in politics as a Congressional staffer to then Congressman Leo Ryan of San Francisco in the late 1970’s. In November 1978, Speier was one of several staffers who traveled with Ryan to Jonestown, Guyana to investigate Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple cult, which had vacated San Francisco for South America the year prior. When attempting to leave, Jonestown guards shot at Ryan and others at an airport, killing the congressman and 5 others while wounding several more. Speier was among those injured, shot five times in the process.
After surviving the attack, Speier went ran for office, and was elected to the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors in 1980 following a failed run at Ryan’s vacated House seat. She served there until 1986 when she was elected to the California Assembly, and followed a ten year stint there with an eight-year run in the California state Senate in 1998. During this time she became known as a strong advocate for train service in California.
Following a narrow loss in the Democratic Lt. Governor candidate race in 2006, Speier was elected to Congress in an April 2008 special election to fill out the rest of the term caused by the death of Congressman Tom Lantos for the district seat largely covering San Mateo County. She next won a full-term in 2008, garnering between 75% and 80% of the vote, and in all subsequent elections. In addition to her continued support for trains, Speier largely followed Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), a long time ally and Congressional district neighbor to the North, in terms of voting. She was also notable for being a harsh critic of President Donald Trump’s tenure while he held office.
While her seat is considered to be one of the safest for Democrat’s in the country, Speier decided to not run next year on Tuesday. Speier said in a video message that she wanted to return to the Bay Area and that she wanted more time with family due to the schedule of being a member of Congress.
— Jackie Speier (@RepSpeier) November 16, 2021
“It’s time for me to come home. Time for me to be more than a weekend wife, mother and friend,” said Congresswoman Speier on Tuesday. “It’s been an extraordinary privilege and honor to represent the people of San Mateo County and San Francisco at almost every level of government for nearly four decades.
“Forty-three years ago this week, I was lying on an airstrip in the jungles of Guyana with five bullet holes in my body. I vowed that if I survived, I would dedicate my life to public service. I lived, and I survived. There’s also another chapter or two in my book of life, and I intend to contribute to you, the communities I love, on the peninsula and in San Francisco and the country.”
The latest Democratic Congress member to announce not running in 2022
“A lot of them are likely worried about being boxed out during reelection, so they’re going out now so there isn’t any intra-party fighting for districts in 2022. It would look bad, and Democrats can’t afford inter-party fighting next year with both houses of Congress on the line. Speier is lucky that her district probably won’t shift too much. Others are not so lucky.”
“Many also probably don’t want to deal with a GOP-led House next year, which is looking more and more likely. Long-time Democrats like Speier liked the days with Obama and now Biden with Democrat majorities and getting things passed. But as we’ve seen with the recent infrastructure and social bills, it being this close means that things are fought tooth and nail as is. With the GOP in control and Biden as President for at least two more years, they won’t have that ease, and older Democrats like Speier don’t want to wait around to get majorities and the presidency again.”
As of Tuesday, Speier has not said who she supports in the upcoming race for her district, with an announcement not likely to come until sometime early next year.
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