November 9, 2022
(SAN FRANCISCO) – Nancy Pelosi has been reelected to represent her San Francisco district for the 17th time, winning the race just two weeks after her husband survived a brutal attack in their home that police say was also an assassination attempt against the first female Speaker of the House. She defeated John Dennis, chairman of the San Francisco Republican Party. However, it remains to be seen whether she will retain the speakership as a number of House races have yet to be called.
Her victory was expected: She has long represented California’s 12th congressional district (renamed the 11th after the latest redistricting), which according to the Cook Political index leans heavily Democrat.
California recently adopted the “jungle” primary process, where the top two vote-getters in the June primary, regardless of party, go on to compete head-to-head in the November general election. This year, Dennis edged out progressive candidate Shahid Buttar in June to become Pelosi’s direct competitor.
According to Ballotpedia, Pelosi has consistently won her district with more than 75% of the vote, and sometimes more than 85%. One of her strongest challengers in recent years was progressive Democrat Buttar, who garnered 22.4% of the vote compared to Pelosi’s 77.6% in 2020, according to Ballotpedia.
This was the fifth time Dennis has run against Pelosi, including races in 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2020. He usually averages around 15% of the vote.
Pelosi had a much larger campaign war chest going into the election. According to FEC’s data for this election cycle, Pelosi raised over $22 million, making her the top fundraiser among House Democrats. During that same period, FEC’s website shows that Dennis raised almost $1 million. As can be seen by using the FEC search tool’s “state” filter, most of his contributions came from out of state.
In recent years, Pelosi has become a target of violent rhetoric from the right. Notably, a January 6 attacker wandered the Capitol hunting for her by name while she organized a police response from her hideout inside the Capitol.
On Oct. 28, police say QAnon conspiracy theorist David DePape broke into the Pelosi home in San Francisco intending to tie her up and torture her. Reports say he attacked Pelosi’s husband Paul with a hammer. Paul Pelosi is recovering from his injuries.
In her early career, Pelosi rose through the ranks of the California Democratic Party until she became the chairwoman in 1981. She won a special election to the US House in 1987 and has won every election since then. She became minority whip in 2001, minority leader in 2002, and speaker in 2006. All three positions were milestones, as she was the first woman to hold each of them.
John Dennis is a New Jersey native. A real-estate developer by profession, he has lived in the same neighborhood as Pelosi since 1991. He first ran against Pelosi in 2010 as a libertarian-leaning Republican and won endorsements from former Texas congressman Ron Paul and the Reason magazine. His opposition to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars allowed some to paint him as running to the left of Pelosi.
However, in recent years, Dennis’ positions have tended to track the zeitgeist among national Republicans. His campaign website calls for ending COVID-19 lockdowns, cutting government spending and debt, and limiting legal immigration. He lauded the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v Wade.
During his first campaign against Pelosi in 2010, Dennis put out a video painting her as the Wicked Witch who was a tool of both Wall Street and a big government spender. Lately, he has promoted the notion that San Francisco schools’ incorporation of transgender -friendly teaching materials amounts to “grooming” — drawing heated condemnation from a parent of a trans child and a Supervisor.
Dennis also flirted with 2020 election denialism. On Nov. 9, after networks had called the election for Biden, he said he expected that fraud would be proven, and that President Trump should not concede.