Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), 82, announced Thursday that she will not seek re-election as the top Democrat in the House but will remain in Congress.
Pelosi, who emerged as a Democratic leader during the George W. Bush administration, made the announcement from the House floor in a speech that touched on democracy, diversity, and elections and that was met with regular rounds of applause by Democrats. She maintained that she would continue to represent the people of San Francisco.
“For me, the hour has come for a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus that I so deeply respect,” said Pelosi.
Pelosi also briefly talked about her husband Paul, who was hospitalized after an intruder broke into their San Francisco home and bashed him with a hammer. The suspect, David DePape, has pleaded not guilty, and friends say he has a history of drug abuse, mental illness, and believing conspiracy theories.
President Joe Biden released a statement immediately after the announcement, calling her one of the most “consequential” speakers in history.
“Nancy Pelosi is first, last, and always for the people. Jill and I count Nancy, Paul, and their family among our dearest friends. As a nation, we owe her a deep debt of gratitude for her service, her patriotism, and above all, her absolute dignity,” he said.
Pelosi’s announcement comes after a better-than-expected performance for Democrats in the 2022 midterm elections. Though pre-election polling and punditry suggested that a “red wave” would sweep Republicans into power in both houses of Congress, Democrats were able to prevail in several high-profile Senate contests to keep control of that chamber, and Republicans are projected to win only a slim majority in the House — but enough to oust Pelosi from her role as the speaker.
Democrats interested in party leadership are expected to emerge soon.
POLITICO reported earlier this year that Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) was interested in the leadership job. However, Schiff decided against running on Wednesday, with sources telling POLITICO that he was instead interested in serving as the next senator from California — a seat currently occupied by Dianne Feinstein.
But one person with interest in the position is Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), who is currently number five in the Democratic leadership team. Jeffries, 52, has been called an “up-and-coming young Democrat” by House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC).
While Jeffries is expected to run with the support of the Congressional Black Caucus, it’s unclear if Pelosi herself will weigh in on who should be the next Democratic leader.
Pelosi has represented most of San Francisco in Congress since the 1980s, having won the seat in a special election following the death of incumbent Democrat Sala Burton. Pelosi subsequently gained a reputation as a leader in the Democratic Party, and has served two stints as speaker. She was the first woman to be in the role.
Hayden Daniel contributed to this report.