Speaker of the House Representatives Nancy is not up for reelection until 2020, but she faces a primary this March. The three upstarts hoping to take her down will debate online Saturday night.
It has long been fashionable for online activists to hate on Nancy Pelosi, but her reluctance to impeach President Trump has mainstreamed the general loathing of our California 12th district congressional representative to the point where she’s getting shouted down and run out of her own press conferences. Yet the Speaker has enjoyed a complete cakewalk in each of her seventeen freaking consecutive election campaigns, winning by a 70% or higher margin every time. (Remember that one time when Cindy Sheehan ran against her?) Pelosi benefits from California’s so-called “jungle primary” — and really, we probably should transition to the term “top-two primary” — because her multiple progressive opponents tend to split the leftie vote, leaving her with some Republican sacrificial lamb whom she is able to trounce in the general election without even being inconvenienced to mount a real campaign.
“Nancy Pelosi has never sat for a debate since she has been elected,” says Eric Oetker, spokesperson for one of Pelosi’s primary opponents Agatha Bacelar. Bacelar will be debating the other two primary challengers Shahid Buttar and Tom Gallagher on Saturday night at 6 p.m. PT in an "online only" debate that will be similar to a group Skype session.
You can watch the debate live on the Real Progressives YouTube page or via Facebook LIve on the Real Progressives Facebook page. Debate moderator Joy Marie Mann tells SFist that “Those who view on the Real Progressive Facebook page, can ask questions in the comment section and if I see one I like, I’ll ask it. I try to make my shows as interactive as possible.”
“All I know is Pelosi needs to retire her damn establishment ass,” Mann adds.
Civil rights attorney Shahid Buttar agrees, though in more diplomatic terms. “We're here to challenge corporate Democrats who are paving Trump's road to authoritarianism by placing their careers before human rights, working families, and future generations,” he says in a statement to SFist. “We're grateful for the opportunity to unify San Francisco behind the progressive movement, and also for the hard work of the hundreds of volunteers and thousands of donors supporting our campaign.”
Rounding out the field is Tom Gallagher who tells us he “A member of the Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic Party before there was a Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic Party.” Gallagher was involved in organizing one of the original single-payer health care initiatives in 1994, which got trounced statewide, but won a majority in San Francisco. “The people of San Francisco voted for single-payer 25 years ago,” Gallagher says. “And Nancy Pelosi has never supported it.”
Unseating Pelosi will be even harder this time around. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) announced in May that it would blacklist any vendor or consultant who worked with any congressional primary challenger, a power grab colloquially known as the “No More AOCs rule,” in reference to the unexpected primary victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
“Thanks to the blacklist we have had meetings canceled, vendors refuse to work with us, and blocked from having a booth at the CA State Democratic convention,” says Bacelar’s spokesperson. “While the blacklist made things harder initially, it also opened the door for a new generation to pick up the slack. Several of our campaign consultants and staff are experts from other fields that made the transition to politics after the blacklist.”
Gallagher, for his part, runs such a grassroots campaign that he thinks the blacklist won’t affect him.“I am not taking any contributions higher than $200,” he tells SFist “I don’t think any would be offered.”
These three are the only candidates declared to run against Pelosi, though technically, the filing deadline is December 6, 2019. The California primary date is March 3, 2020, and again, the top two finishers face off for the congressional seat on November 3, 2020.
We’ll have a full rundown of this rhetorical donnybrook on Monday morning, but you can watch it live Saturday night, August 17, at 6 p.m. PT (9 p.m. ET), on the Real Progressives YouTube page or the Real Progressives Facebook page.