SAN FRANCISCO — Nancy Pelosi has made two very totally different, virtually irreconcilable statements about her political future.
In 2018, she pledged that 2022 could be her final yr as Home Democratic chief, acceding to a time period restrict to quell an rebellion and safe a second stint as speaker. In January, she introduced she was working for an additional two-year time period within the Home.
With the Home’s passage of the sweeping measure to handle local weather change and prescription drug costs on Friday — “a wonderful day for us,” Ms. Pelosi beamed — and her China-defying journey to Taiwan serving as a diplomatic profession capstone, the query of what comes subsequent for Ms. Pelosi is barely intensifying.
Will she press to remain on as speaker if Democrats one way or the other maintain the Home? Or, if Republicans take management, will she merely retire?
She might break her 2018 pledge and search to stay Democratic chief within the minority. These near her describe just one possibility as inconceivable: a demotion to the backbench.
Ms. Pelosi, 82, has averted discussing her plans previous November and declined to be interviewed. A spokesman, Drew Hammill, issued the identical, terse assertion he has supplied beforehand: “The speaker will not be on a shift,” he mentioned. “She’s on a mission.”
Some clues to Ms. Pelosi’s future could also be discovered nearer to her residence in San Francisco — the place the tantalizing chance of the town’s first open congressional seat because the fall of the Soviet Union has change into the political speak of the city.
Would-be candidates, labor leaders, political strategists, donors and activists are already busily plotting what a race to succeed her would appear like — albeit virtually fully in secret, to keep away from antagonizing Ms. Pelosi, who has made plain she needs to retire on her personal phrases.
“That is very a lot the marketing campaign that shall not be named,” Dan Newman, a San Francisco-based Democratic operative, mentioned of the early jostling. “Nancy Pelosi is a drive of nature, and nobody needs to look in any approach disrespectful or dismissive.”
In interviews, greater than a dozen officers mentioned native Democrats have been making ready for the chance that Ms. Pelosi might resign fairly than keep and hand the gavel to a Republican. That might set off a snap particular election in San Francisco, held inside 150 days — a dash for what, given the town’s politics, might quantity to a de facto lifetime appointment to Congress.
Including to the intrigue: One potential successor is Ms. Pelosi’s daughter Christine Pelosi, a celebration activist and Democratic Nationwide Committee govt committee member who serves as an adviser to her mom, has written a e book about her and sometimes accompanies her to native union halls, speeches and parades. She slings her opinions on-line from a Twitter deal with, @sfpelosi, that would at a look be confused for one her mom would possibly use.
Wrapped up within the elder Ms. Pelosi’s choice and its timing are intertwined questions of energy, legacy and dynasty, and the way totally a barrier-breaking, notoriously aggressive public determine can stage-manage her exit.
There’s additionally Washington politics: Ms. Pelosi referred to as herself “a bridge to the following technology of leaders” 4 years in the past, signaling her need that her departure coincide with these of her fellow-octogenarian lieutenants, Representatives Steny Hoyer, 83, and James Clyburn, 82. Neither has agreed.
In San Francisco, equally, the Pelosi title stays beloved, however there is no such thing as a assure of a managed succession.
A preferred state senator, Scott Wiener, whose district overlaps Ms. Pelosi’s, is extensively seen as laying the groundwork for a marketing campaign. Mr. Wiener spent practically $2.5 million on his re-election and has been wooing supporters underneath the guise of fine politics, although his ambitions to change into San Francisco’s first brazenly homosexual congressman are an open secret.
In an interview at a Brazilian pastry store, the 6-foot-7-inch Mr. Wiener refused even to broach the opportunity of a post-Pelosi period. “The longer she stays, the higher for our nation,” he mentioned. “I’m on Crew Nancy.”
It was a remark befitting what Tony Winnicker, a longtime native Democratic strategist, referred to as “the primary rule of eager to run for Nancy Pelosi’s seat.”
“You by no means speak about it in a approach that implies Nancy will ever depart,” he mentioned.
Christine Pelosi, too, declined to remark.
As former chair of the ladies’s caucus of the state Democratic Celebration, the youthful Ms. Pelosi, 56, has been outspoken in preventing sexual harassment.
More and more, she and Mr. Wiener, 52, are crisscrossing at native occasions, like a Pleasure breakfast the place he and the elder Ms. Pelosi each delivered speeches. “This has been a household affair for us for greater than 30 years,” Nancy Pelosi mentioned, recognizing her daughter’s presence. (She additionally acknowledged Mr. Wiener.)
Simply as she has in Washington, the place she has outlasted a technology of potential male successors — Rahm Emanuel, Chris Van Hollen and Joseph Crowley amongst them — Ms. Pelosi has saved an array of bold native officers on ice since 1987.
Willie Brown, the previous San Francisco mayor, mentioned that these planning Home campaigns have been good to get began, even when considerably untimely. In an interview over lunch, he speculated that Ms. Pelosi would show a robust ally to her daughter, finally.
“If her mom will not be round, Christine could be a formidable candidate,” Mr. Brown mentioned. “As a result of her mom would make her a formidable candidate.”
Few anticipate the speaker to disclose her intentions till November. Doing so any sooner might scale back her sway over the razor-thin Home Democratic majority, to not point out her energy as a fund-raiser. She hosts a serious donor retreat in Napa subsequent weekend.
At any time when her Home seat opens up, it will likely be an opportunity to not simply succeed the primary feminine speaker in United States historical past however to additionally symbolize a metropolis that has lengthy punched above its weight in nationwide politics, regardless of a inhabitants smaller than that of Columbus, Ohio.
At present, the No. 2 and No. 3 officers within the presidential line of succession — Vice President Kamala Harris, as soon as the town’s district legal professional, and Ms. Pelosi — each minimize their tooth politically in San Francisco. Democrats who emerge within the metropolis’s notoriously cutthroat liberal politics, from Gov. Gavin Newsom to Senator Dianne Feinstein to Ms. Pelosi, have discovered methods to placate the oft-warring factions of the Democratic Celebration.
“The combat offers you muscle,” mentioned Debra Walker, an artist and activist who has served because the president of the Harvey Milk L.G.B.T.Q. Democratic Membership. Ms. Walker was appointed in June to the San Francisco Police Fee, as Mayor London Breed sought to defuse a blowup between the police division and the town’s annual Pleasure Parade organizers, who had sought to bar officers from marching in uniform.
Even amongst Ms. Pelosi’s pals and allies, some have puzzled if Christine Pelosi, who wrote a e book on campaigning however has by no means run for workplace herself, is sufficiently ready.
“I’d fairly see Christine begin at a state stage fairly than Congress,” mentioned Joe Cotchett, a serious Democratic donor and household pal.
Mr. Cotchett anticipated Nancy Pelosi to help her daughter, up to a degree. “Do I feel that Nancy will push her? Emotionally, she’s her daughter,” he mentioned. “However I don’t suppose Nancy is the kind of one that would step in and try to dam anybody from working.”
If the elder Ms. Pelosi is thought for her deft relationship administration, that has been much less true for Christine, whose years as an activist have included urgent for D.N.C. resolutions — making an attempt to ban company contributions, demanding a 2020 local weather debate — typically to the exasperation of social gathering officers.
Her final title has insulated her from public criticism, however hidden frustrations have mounted, in line with a half dozen officers on each coasts.
She antagonized the Newsom staff, as an example, when she urged throughout the 2021 recall that Mr. Newsom ought to step down if he appeared more likely to lose. Publicly, she sought to undercut Mr. Newsom’s central technique of labeling the recall as a Republican energy seize. Privately, she was straight texting Mr. Newsom to complain about his techniques, in line with two folks briefed on the messages she despatched.
Mr. Newsom defeated the recall in a landslide.
In a metropolis the place politics is commonly private and fractious, Mr. Wiener has accrued critics, too.
“Folks speak about it on a regular basis,” Mike Casey, president of the San Francisco Labor Council, mentioned of the race to succeed Ms. Pelosi. “However largely, like, who don’t we would like. Like Scott Wiener has actually gotten on the trades’ and quite a lot of our unhealthy facet.”
And whereas Mr. Wiener and Ms. Pelosi are progressives by any nationwide metric, neither would essentially fulfill the town’s ideological purists, a wing that would area a candidate, too. “I haven’t dominated it out,” mentioned Jane Kim, a 45-year-old former supervisor and govt director of the California Working Households Celebration.
Jen Snyder, a San Francisco-based strategist who works with progressives, might summon little enthusiasm for a Pelosi-Wiener contest.
“Will probably be Mothra versus Godzilla,” Ms. Snyder mentioned. “I suppose I can be on the sidelines consuming popcorn.”
One other attainable candidate is Ms. Breed, the primary Black girl to function mayor. She has indicated she is tired of a congressional run, in line with folks near her.
“I can inform you as a pal of hers, she’s not,” mentioned Lee Houskeeper, a neighborhood public-relations veteran, who joined Mr. Brown for the lunch interview.
“I can inform you as a pal of hers, she higher be,” Mr. Brown interjected.
Clint Reilly, who managed Ms. Pelosi’s 1987 congressional marketing campaign and has recognized her household since, declined at first to speak. “Go away me alone!” he insisted. “They received’t be proud of something I say!”
However Mr. Reilly, an investor who now owns The San Francisco Examiner, agreed to speak, together with about how Ms. Pelosi received that first race, defeating a homosexual rival, Harry Britt, who ran to her left, in a multicandidate scrum.
Her prophetic slogan: “A voice that can be heard.”
If Democrats lose in November, Mr. Reilly mentioned, “most individuals would name it at the moment.” However not essentially Ms. Pelosi. “She loves the sport,” he mentioned. “She hates to lose.”
“The way it ends?” he mused. “I don’t suppose even she is aware of the reply.”