How Pelosi’s hard work clinched party sup­port

San Francisco Chronicle - Late Edition (Sunday) - - BAY AREA - MATIER & ROSS

Nancy Pelosi’s cam­paign to re­claim her old job as House speaker be­gan two years ago, just days af­ter Don­ald Trump’s stun­ning pres­i­den­tial win.

It be­gan with Pelosi’s own ral­ly­ing cry to health care ad­vo­cates, la­bor unions, vet­er­ans and oth­ers in the Demo­cratic base to help save the Af­ford­able Care Act.

Even be­fore Trump was sworn in, Pelosi — along with singer Joan Baez and sev­eral area politi­cians — joined in a “Pro­tect Our Health Care” rally on the steps of San Fran­cisco City Hall, as si­mul­ta­ne­ous events were held in 40 other cities across the coun­try.

Sav­ing health care then be­came the mantra

for Pelosi’s drive over the next two years to re­claim the House and speak­er­ship.

It cul­mi­nated in a can­di­date re­cruit­ment drive and fundrais­ing ef­fort that even­tu­ally amassed $25.9 mil­lion for Democrats in the midterm elec­tions.

“The nar­ra­tive arc in all the events and fundrais­ing were re­lated to keep­ing us fo­cused on that (health care) mes­sage,” said Pelosi’s daugh­ter and party ac­tivist, Chris­tine Pelosi.

As it be­came in­creas­ingly likely that the Democrats would re­take the House, Pelosi — rather than spend­ing di­rectly on her own re­elec­tion — put her re­sources into set­ting up shop with lo­cal party of­fi­cials at the old Pot­tery Barn on Market Street, which they used for get-out-the-vote ef­forts and head­quar­ters to launch the “Nancy for Speaker” cam­paign. Then came the PR blitz.

Pelosi popped up ev­ery­where, from latenight TV to the cover of the New York Times Mag­a­zine, and there were daily press drops by key sup­port­ers and fel­low mem­bers of Con­gress voic­ing sup­port for Pelosi as speaker.

Mean­while, inside the Capi­tol, she used her lead­er­ship position to of­fer deals to her newly elected col­leagues for key com­mit­tee as­sign­ments, leg­isla­tive rule changes and other de­mands.

It all paid off for Pelosi last week when Democrats voted 203 to 32 in a closed-door cau­cus to renom­i­nate her, set­ting the stage for a fi­nal vote in the new House in Jan­uary.

In the end, there was no one ready to run against Pelosi — and her op­po­nents had lit­tle choice but to ei­ther go along with her elec­tion or join with Repub­li­cans to pick some­one else as speaker.

“What kind of first im­pres­sion would that have made to their vot­ers back at home,” asked East Bay Demo­cratic Rep. Mark DeSaulnier. “Her de­trac­tors were play­ing check­ers, while she was play­ing three-

level chess.”

Parad­ing around: San Fran­cisco Mayor London Breed spent her first Thanks­giv­ing in of­fice — not carv­ing tur­keys at St. An­thony Din­ing Room, but in New York at the Macy’s Pa­rade, sit­ting in the VIP sec­tion that was vis­i­ble to any­one watch­ing NBC’s cov­er­age.

Sources tell us the mayor was on hand with the fam­ily of Build­ing In­spec­tion Com­mis­sioner John Kon­stin, owner of John’s Grill. Both Kon­stin and his daugh­ter were cel­e­brat­ing their birth­days.

Breed, who has rarely had a breather since she was thrust into the may­oral spot­light a year ago upon the abrupt death of Mayor Ed Lee, was ful­fill­ing a child­hood dream of at­tend­ing the pa­rade.

Her New York trip, which in­cluded some shop­ping, was quite a break from the long tra­di­tion of San Fran­cisco may­ors spend­ing the hol­i­day carv­ing turkey and dishing out food to the home­less at St. An­thony’s and Glide Memo­rial Church.

Breed’s spokesman, Jeff Cre­tan, tells us she did her of­fi­cial duty be­fore she left, pop­ping up ear­lier in the week to hand out tur­keys at San Fran­cisco pub­lic hous­ing projects, in­clud­ing a visit with War­riors All-Star Kevin Du­rant.

We’re told the mayor paid her own air­fare and ho­tel. As for the po­lice se­cu­rity team that ac­com­pa­nied her, SFPD spokesman David Steven­son de­clined to pro­vide de­tails, say­ing “do­ing so could com­pro­mise the safety of the of­fi­cials and the se­cu­rity de­tail.” Sonoma re­treat: Elected of­fi­cials who serve on the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Trans­porta­tion Com­mis­sion rolled into the five-star Fair­mont Sonoma Mis­sion Inn re­sort Wed­nes­day for an overnight re­treat to talk about af­ford­able hous­ing and how best to spend trans­porta­tion tax and toll money in the com­ing year.

Cost: $29,000.

In all, about 16 MTC mem­bers — in­clud­ing Los Al­tos City Coun­cil­woman Jean­nie Bru­ins, Alameda County Su­per­vi­sor Scott Hag­gerty, Marin County Su­per­vi­sor Da­mon Connolly, Napa County Su­per­vi­sor Al­fredo Pe­droza, Red­wood City Coun­cil­woman Ali­cia Aguirre and BART Di­rec­tor Nick Jose­fowitz — made the trip.

Pe­droza, Hag­gerty and Aguirre only came up for the day.

Oak­land Mayor Libby Schaaf was there as well, but paid with her own credit card — so did Orinda City Coun­cil­woman Amy Worth. San Jose Mayor Sam Lic­cardo also at­tended the re­treat, but he stayed in an­other ho­tel.

The MTC typ­i­cally hosts the gath­er­ing in the home base of the com­mis­sion chair — in this case, Rohn­ert Park City Coun­cil­man Jake Macken­zie.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­sort web­site, the ho­tel of­fers guests “ex­cep­tional spa ser­vices, a Miche­lin­rated restau­rant, ac­cess to cham­pi­onship golf at neigh­bor­ing Sonoma Golf Club, and nu­mer­ous com­pli­men­tary fit­ness and well­ness of­fer­ings.”

“They worked un­til 5 p.m. and started work­ing again at 8 a.m. the next morn­ing,” MTC spokesman Randy Rentschler said. “We didn’t pay for any spa ser­vices, and I sus­pect the funnest thing any­one did was to go for a walk in the rain.”

End of the line: And fi­nally, a per­sonal note from An­drew Ross, the back half of Matier & Ross:

“With a mix of emo­tions and af­ter 43 years in the news busi­ness, cov­er­ing just about ev­ery type of story imag­in­able, I’ve de­cided to re­tire this month. The good news is Phil Matier — my al­ways-on-the-move column part­ner of 28 years — isn’t go­ing any­where and plans to con­tinue writ­ing an in­sight­ful news and po­lit­i­cal gos­sip column twice a week in The Chron­i­cle.

“To­gether, we’ve had a great front-row ride on some of the big­gest news sto­ries in the Bay Area and Cal­i­for­nia, and I will miss our part­ner­ship and the many ed­i­tors, col­leagues and news sources who have sup­ported us over the years. I will also miss an­swer­ing your many calls, letters and emails — even the com­plaints.

“But then life goes on — and so does the news.”

San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle colum­nists Phillip Matier and An­drew Ross ap­pear Sun­days, Mon­days and Wed­nes­days. Matier can be seen on the KPIX TV morn­ing and evening news. He can also be heard on KCBS ra­dio Mon­day through Fri­day at 7:50 a.m. and 5:50 p.m. Got a tip? Call 415-777-8815, or email matieran­[email protected] sfchron­i­cle.com. Twit­ter: @matieran­dross

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