a man with a short beard and glasses holds a microphone and addresses a crowd outside
State Sen. Scott Wiener speaks at the Families Belong Together rally in San Francisco, June 23, 2018. (Photo/Wikimedia Commons)

Jewish and Jew-ish pols floated as Pelosi’s eventual successor

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Whether or not Nancy Pelosi decides to retire if the Democrats lose their House majority in the November midterms — thereby costing the 18-term member of Congress her position as speaker — is anybody’s guess.

In speculating about the possibility, Pelosi’s supporters in the Bay Area Jewish community laud the 82-year-old Democratic icon in one breath, and say they are happy with the names being floated to potentially fill her seat in the next.

A recent New York Times article named state Sen. Scott Wiener, San Francisco Mayor London Breed and Pelosi’s daughter Christine as possibilities. Other publications have speculated, as well.

Gia Daniller-Katz
Gia Daniller-Katz

There are “a lot of good options,” said Gia Daniller-Katz, co-chair of the Raoul Wallenberg Jewish Democratic Club, a San Francisco political group founded in 1983. “It’ll definitely be sort of a passing of an era, but at the same time, we are blessed. We’re blessed with a number of very talented and qualified local leaders.”

Pelosi, who has been in Congress since 1987 and is up for re-election on Nov. 8, has been the House Democratic leader for 19 years.

In praising Pelosi’s steadfast allyship with the Jewish community — “We’ve been well represented,” Daniller-Katz said — she also expressed high levels of comfort with potential Jewish replacements such as Wiener, the vice chair of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus, and Christine Pelosi.

Wiener, 52, whose district overlaps Speaker Pelosi’s, “is widely seen as laying the groundwork for a campaign,” according to the New York Times.

Like Wiener, Christine Pelosi is a San Franciscan with a strong personal connection to Judaism. But while she’s a party activist, a member of the Democratic National Committee’s executive committee and an adviser to her mother who has written a book on campaigning, she has never run for office herself.

Peter Kaufman (center) and Christine Pelosi (right) with Hilary Newsom, sister of Gov. Gavin Newsom, in 2013. (Photo/Wikimedia)
Peter Kaufman (center) and Christine Pelosi (right) with Hilary Newsom, sister of Gov. Gavin Newsom, in 2013. (Photo/Wikimedia)

Christine, 56, has been married since 2008 to a film producer who is Jewish, Peter Kaufman, and in 1995 she went on a Jewish Community Relations Council trip to Israel that led a group of mostly non-Jewish leaders in exploring the complexities of Israeli-Arab relations.

In 2020, she took issue with Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn, then a candidate for the House from North Carolina, for comments he made about trying to convert Jews; in a tweet aimed at former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, she wrote, “My kids have Jewish blood running through their veins every day. @GOPLeader when are you going to stop this blatant anti-Semitism from infecting Congress?”

“If the race is between Scott Wiener and Christine Pelosi, the pro-Israel community is going to be in great shape,” said Sam Lauter, a Democratic political strategist who is the principal at the Oakland-based BMWL and Partners. “Scott has the platform to show that more visibly, more often. Christine Pelosi is absolutely a friend of our community.”

Wiener told J. that the Jewish work he’s most proud of was securing $3 million in state funding last year for the S.F.-based Jewish Family and Children’s Services Holocaust Center, largely through his role on the Jewish caucus.

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However, he had little to say regarding Pelosi’s speculated-upon retirement, other than offering praise for her continued leadership.

“Speaker Pelosi is one of the most effective elected officials in American history, and the pride of San Francisco. I am 100 percent Team Nancy and will be thrilled to support her for as many more years as she wants to serve,” Wiener said in a statement sent to J. “We need to focus on keeping Democratic majorities in Congress, and there’s no one better to lead that effort than Speaker Pelosi.”

Still, the New York Times piece, in pointing out that Wiener is doing a delicate political dance with an eye toward Pelosi’s seat, wrote, “his ambitions to become San Francisco’s first openly gay congressman are an open secret.”

Four years ago, Pelosi announced that 2022 would be her last year as the Democratic leader, though in January she turned that pledge hazy when announcing she would run for another two-year term.

“There’s intense focus on if and when that’ll happen,” Dan Newman, a S.F.-based political consultant said of Pelosi’s rumored retirement, “whether or not it’ll happen for the following election cycle, or, one piece of the speculation is that it could happen sooner.”

Whenever it does happen, the person filling her seat in Congress will have “nowhere near the power and influence” she wields. Whoever it is, Newman said, “will be filling ginormous shoes.”

Jew,  Jewish,  J. The Jewish News of Northern California
Emma Goss.(Photo/Aaron Levy-Wolins)
Emma Goss

Emma Goss is a J. staff writer. She is a Bay Area native and an alum of Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School and Kehillah Jewish High School. Emma also reports for NBC Bay Area. Follow her on Twitter @EmmaAudreyGoss.