NANCY PELOSI

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By Tim Sullivan

Our final fierce female in the series is Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Born in Baltimore in 1940, Nancy was the youngest of seven children, and the only girl. Both her father and brother served as mayor, giving her an early introduction to politics. She married Paul Pelosi in 1963 and relocated to his hometown of San Francisco.

While raising five children, Nancy remained active in politics, becoming a member of the DNC, and a leading fundraising for California Democrats. She ran for Congress in a special election in 1987, defeating her Republican opponent handily At the time, she was one of just 27 women in the House of Representatives.

Nancy quickly built a reputation for herself as a shrewd politician, and in particular her ability to count and swing votes has become the stuff of legend. She became the first woman House Minority Whip in 2001, the first female House party leader in 2004, and the first woman Speaker of the House in 2006.

Particularly after the election of Barack Obama in 2008, Nancy established a legacy as one of the most effective Speakers in history. Her ability to build consensus among her party’s competing factions led to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and the economic stimulus acts that led to the end of the Great Recession.

In 2018, Nancy broke the record for the longest speech in the House of Representatives in her elegant defense of the DREAMers. That year, she led her party to the largest gains in the House since the Watergate era, and successfully trounced all intra-party opposition to be the first person to regain the Speaker’s gavel since 1955. Though no one really won in the longest government shutdown, her steadfastness in the face of temper tantrums from the sitting president enabled the government to reopen without funding for a border wall.

Nancy is the highest-ranking woman in United States history. There are currently 127 women serving in the House, exactly one hundred more than when she was first elected.

“Maybe it will take a woman to clean up the House.”

“A woman is like a teabag. You can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.”

“Being the first woman Speaker and breaking the marble ceiling is pretty important. Now, it’s time to move on.”

“I really want women to know their power, to value their experience. To understand that nothing has been more wholesome in the political process than the increased involvement of women.”

“Don’t underestimate your opponent, but don’t overestimate them either.”

“Nothing surprises me. One thing I don’t ever have in my world is surprise.”

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