"Republicans enjoy making fun of Nancy Pelosi, but the House Speaker kicked their butts on health reform." -- Congressional Quarterly
"If there were a Mt Rushmore for House Speakers, her pleasant grin and steely eyes would be on it." -- Paul Begala
Nancy Pelosi was born and raised in Baltimore in a well known Catholic political family. Her father was a Congressman and Mayor, and her brother also served as Mayor. When she graduated with a degree in political science, she went to work for a US Senator from Maryland. But while she was in college she met and fell in love with Frank Pelosi. When they married, they moved to New York and then San Francisco.
Like a good Catholic wife, she stayed at home to raise her five children. But she was an active volunteer for the Democratic Party, working her way up with ladder. One of her mentors was Congressman Philip Burton who served for 20 years until his death. His wife was appointed to his seat, but she decided not to run for reelection and chose Pelosi to run for her seat. Since Pelosi's youngest child was a senior in high school, she felt like she could now run for office. It was an extremely close race, but she won - and has never had a serious challenger since.
When she announced her campaign for Congress in 1987, it made the news in Baltimore because of the prominence of her family. I was living in Annapolis at the time and heard the news. The more I learned about her, the more I liked her. I sent her a contribution and have been a fan ever since - closely following her career.
Like most women in a male dominated career, she worked harder and more professionally than most of her colleagues - and she gained a great deal of respect from her peers. She served on Committees usually reserved for men - Appropriations and Intelligence - and eventually became the ranking member of the Intelligence Committee.
In 2001, in a close race, she was elected House Minority Whip, the first woman to hold that position. In 2002, when the Minority Leader resigned to run for President, she was elected to that position - and became the first woman to lead a major party in the US House. After the Democrats gained control of the House, she became the first woman Speaker of the House. During her acceptance speech to Congress, she discussed the historical importance of being the first female to hold the position of Speaker:
"This is a historic moment — for the Congress, and for the women of this country. It is a moment for which we have waited more than 200 years. Never losing faith, we waited through the many years of struggle to achieve our rights. But women weren't just waiting; women were working. Never losing faith, we worked to redeem the promise of America, that all men and women are created equal. For our daughters and granddaughters, today, we have broken the marble ceiling. For our daughters and our granddaughters, the sky is the limit, anything is possible for them".Nancy, on behalf of all the women to whom you are a heroine, I want you to know we are extremely proud of you!