At a Glance
- Career History: Speaker of the U.S. House (January 2007-2011); U.S. Representative (since 1987); Northern California Democratic Party chairman (1977 to 1981); public relations executive, Ogilve&Mather (1986 to 1987)
- Birthday: March 26, 1940
- Hometown: Baltimore, Md.
- Alma Mater: Trinity College, B.A., 1962.
- Spouse: Paul Pelosi
- Religion: Catholic
- DC Office: 235 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, D.C., 202-225-4965
- District Office: San Francisco, 415-556-4862
Path To Power
The sixth child and only daughter of Thomas D'Alesandro Jr. and Annunciata, Pelosi was raised in the Little Italy section of Baltimore. She was introduced to the political world as a child because her father served as a Maryland House Member from 1939 to 1947 and then Baltimore mayor for 12 years. Her brother, Thomas D'Alesandro III, was mayor of Baltimore from 1967 to 1971.
As part of a heavily Catholic family, Pelosi's mother wanted her to become a nun. But instead, Pelosi attended Trinity College where she met her husband, Paul Pelosi, now a wealthy real-estate developer. Roll Call estimated the Pelosis' net worth as $18.7 million, making her the 17th richest Member of Congress.
Pelosi originally focused on local issues after being elected to the House in 1987, such as preserving San Francisco's historic Presidio. She also vigorously fought giving China most-favored-nation status and China's 2001 entrance to the World Trade Organization. She encouraged President Bush to boycott the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing summer Olympics.
Pelosi has been a consistent liberal in terms of her personal voting record. But she has played a considerably more pragmatic role as Democratic leader and speaker. The election of more conservative Democrats to the House has also forced Pelosi's hand, causing her to stake out more moderate stances than some liberals would like.
Pelosi draws on a wide range of family, lawmakers and San Francisco businessmen and pols for advice. "She doesn't have a close circle, she has an ever-widening circle," said a key local ally, ex-Rep. John Burton (D-Calif.), Sala Burton's brother-in-law. "Her friends go from the cream of the crop down to the average working stiffs. She covers the whole gamut."
Her staunchest ally in Congress is probably Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), who advises her on politics and policy. John Lawrence, Miller's former chief of staff, is now Pelosi's top aide. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) are close friends, as is Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), who ran her leadership campaigns for minority whip in 2001 and for minority leader in 2002. Furthermore, Pelosi floated the name of Texas Rep. Chet Edwards, a moderate Democrat representing George Bush's hometown of Crawford, as a good vice presidential pick based on his military credentials. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) is probably Pelosi's closest Senate ally.