"It's time for me to come home, time for me to be more than a weekend wife, mother and friend," said longtime Bay Area Congresswoman Jackie Speier. At age 71, the San Mateo County representative says she will not be seeking reelection in 2022, opening up a new House race on the Peninsula.
Speier's career in American politics began fatefully, after being shot on the tarmac near Jonestown in Guyana on November 18, 1978. Speier was an aide at the time to Rep. Leo Ryan, who represented this same district in San Mateo, and Ryan had led a convoy, including reporters from NBC News, to the Peoples Temple Agricultural Project in Guyana to investigate reports from families that Bay Area residents were being held there against their will.
Ryan was murdered that day, while Speier lay with her injuries for 22 hours before rescuers arrived — unsure if the gunmen directed by Jim Jones would return to finish the job. She says that, lying there with five bullet wounds, "I vowed that if I survived I would dedicate my life to public service."
"I lived, and I served," Speier said, in her video announcement.
As the Chronicle recounts today, Speier first became a San Mateo County supervisor, then a state assemblymember and state senator, and she's been a member of Congress since 2008.
Speier's district, California's 14th, covers most of San Mateo County and also includes a small section of San Francisco in the southwest corner of the city.
In the California legislature, she was an early advocate for women and the movement to stop sexual harassment in the workplace, and in Congress she has fought for women's reproductive rights, and against sexual assault in the military.
In 2019, Speier became one of the first sitting members of Congress to publicly discuss having had an abortion — which she did in protest of several states' increasing efforts to limit and ban abortions.
"Twenty-five percent of the women in this country have had abortions, under what have to have been traumatic times and experiences," Speier said at the time. “There’s over 100 women in the House, and in all likelihood there’s maybe as many as 25 that have had abortions. It’s always a painful and complicated experience, it’s not anything anyone wants to do, but it’s a right that we have and it’s not going to be taken away."
Also, along with Bay Area Rep. Zoe Lofgren on the Judiciary Committee, Speier played a key role in the impeachment of Donald Trump while serving on the House Intelligence Committee.
Speier closed her announcement by saying, "As I leave, I want to convey my deepest appreciation to you and urge you to protect our precious democracy. It is fragile and vulnerable."
"One word sums up Jackie Speier and that is ‘fearless’," said San Mateo County Board of Supervisors President David Canepa, speaking to KTVU. "She is truly a hero for the ages. She endured tragedy after tragedy as a human and never wavered, never gave up on herself, her family or the constituents she serves. Her name is almost synonymous with San Mateo County and her legacy will forever endure in my mind."
Local political columnist Joe Garofoli speculated to KTVU about who may be interested in running for Speier's seat next year — which is in no danger of flipping Republican. He suggests it will likely be state Sen. Josh Becker, Assemblymembers Ash Kalra, Alex Lee, or Evan Low, and/or someone from the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors.