Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi has given no indication she intends to relinquish the seat she’s held in Congress for the better part of four decades, and she continues to raise funds in the hopes of helping Democrats take back control of the House next year.
But the 2024 campaign season is already in full swing, and one potential successor is making moves.
Scott Wiener, a fellow Democrat and state senator for San Francisco, started an exploratory committee this spring to run for Congress in the event Pelosi retires. And it appears he hasn’t wasted time in building up a substantial campaign war chest.
Officials for Wiener’s committee told The Standard that they raised more than $820,000 from 616 donors in the first half of this year. A good chunk of that money came from an event in June, when local women leaders hosted an event for Wiener that raised more than $44,000 from 83 donors. Numbers are required to be officially reported by the end of this month.
The total money raised “blew my expectations out of the water,” Wiener said in a phone interview Wednesday. He noted that many people contributed without any promise of when the money would be spent, because Pelosi has not announced her plans beyond her current two-year term ending in 2024.
“The speaker emerita has not said what she’s going to do. She could run again next year, and that’s entirely her prerogative,” Wiener said. “If she runs again next year, I’ll support her 1,000%, because I think she’s just truly amazing.”
Since she stepped down as House speaker last November, Pelosi has been on an award tour, basking in praise for her historic career. She was feted by the Board of Supervisors, and the recent state Democratic Party convention was described as a “love fest.”
If Pelosi seeks a 20th term in office, Wiener’s campaign would simply put the exploratory committee on pause and wait until the next cycle, assuming Pelosi—now 83 years old—does not intend to remain in office the rest of her life. Calls have grown louder for her colleague U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein to retire due to failing health, but Pelosi herself has shown no signs of slowing down.
“In order to help win back the House for the Democrats, Speaker Emerita Pelosi has filed for re-election and is continuing her strong fundraising,” Aaron Bennett, a spokesperson for Pelosi, said in an email.
The speaker emerita certainly could play an important role in next year’s presidential elections, as she served as an effective thorn in Donald Trump’s side during his presidency. Many expect the former president to secure the Republican Party nomination in 2024 despite being indicted for mishandling classified documents and other charges.
Pelosi also has her own war chest, with more than $3.3 million in her reelection campaign account as of March 31, according to federal elections filings. She raised more than $1.1 million in just the first quarter of this year and the likelihood of coasting to another reelection would allow her to spread that money around the Democratic Party.
Throughout her time in Congress, Pelosi also has proven to be a strong voice in advocating for her district after taking office in 1987, racking up reelections with overwhelming majorities.
“Even though she’s no longer the speaker, she still plays a very outsized role, and she’s very effective for the country and for San Francisco,” Wiener said.
Other potential candidates who could make a run for Pelosi’s seat include her daughter, Christine, an attorney and political strategist for the national Democratic Party, as well as Jane Kim, a former San Francisco supervisor and current head of the Working Families Party.
Neither Kim nor Christine Pelosi responded to requests for comment.
The uncertainty around the speaker emerita’s future isn’t just pumping the brakes on Wiener’s political future, though. Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, who represents the Castro District that was previously represented by Wiener, also created an exploratory committee for his predecessor’s state Senate seat.
Mandelman told The Standard in a phone interview Thursday that his committee raised $110,000 from 131 contributors in a little more than a month. His exploratory committee notes a potential run for 2028, but Mandelman could launch a campaign for 2024 in the event that Pelosi retires and Wiener makes his move. State law would forbid Wiener from running for Congress and appearing on the ballot next year for reelection to the state Senate.
“I believe Nancy Pelosi can run indefinitely in San Francisco and win because people love her,” Mandelman said. “If the dominoes were to start falling, I want to be ready.”
Josh Koehn can be reached at email@example.com