(breitbart) – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would not have been elected to Congress in the first place were it not for Republicans in San Francisco she tricked into backing her over another Democrat, who was openly gay.
Pelosi, according to a book excerpt, literally sent out mailers in her 1987 special election primary to registered Republicans in her district with elephant logos on them, pushing Republicans to vote for her. The mailers also criticized efforts to raise taxes, and argued Pelosi would oppose income tax hikes if elected to Congress.
The push worked, and delivered her thousands of GOP votes. Had she not gotten those Republican votes these mailers helped deliver for her, given the close margin of her first victory that then sent her as the only Democrat into the runoff that sealed her election to Congress in the 1987 special election in San Francisco, she might not have ever won in the first place—and might not be Speaker of the House today, her second stint in the job.
This revelation, one of many about the first female Speaker of the House of Representatives in a forthcoming book from USA Today’s Susan Page, is in an excerpt obtained by Breitbart News exclusively from Madam Speaker: Nancy Pelosi and the Lessons of Power. The book comes out on April 20.
It is a particularly relevant story, too, for a number of reasons these days. First and foremost, Pelosi is now one of the biggest champions of raising taxes on higher earners—a complete shift away from the message those original mailers she used to get elected sent to Republicans in San Francisco showed.
It also demonstrates that Pelosi was once willing to use Republicans to win—something she is rarely now willing to do. Several decades later, Pelosi has been one of the most partisan Speakers in modern history in both of her stints atop the lower chamber of Congress. She regularly rams through controversial legislation, like the notable examples of Obamacare in her first stint as Speaker and the recently-passed $1.9 trillion coronavirus pandemic spending bill in this most recent turn.
The excerpt also shows Pelosi, a master navigator of the contours of Congress, had an early history of being able to “Count Your Votes,” as she is quoted in the book saying.
The death of then-Rep. Sala Burton (D-CA) in 1987 opened up California’s 5th congressional district in San Francisco to a special election. Pelosi, who was planning her own run for the seat, ran into opposition inside the Democrat Party from then-Board of Supervisors member Harry Britt—an openly gay man who would, according to Page’s book, “make history if he won.”
“At the time, no openly gay candidate had ever won his or her initial election to Congress,” Page wrote.
“Harry Britt had the enthusiasm of gay and lesbian supporters eager for a breakthrough; they were all but certain to show up at the polls,” Page added at the beginning of the excerpt.
Pelosi’s coalition was not as strong, nor was it as enthusiastic. Page wrote:
What about her voters? She was counting on support from younger women, from older, ethnic Democrats, and from Republicans. She was leading in the public polls, which might make her supporters feel complacent. Heading into the final week of the campaign, Nancy Pelosi applied what she called ‘the most important D’Alesandro rule of all,’ something so crucial she would refer to it in capital letters: ‘Count Your Votes.’
Page wrote that Pelosi’s campaign “calculated the likely results based on various turnout models” and the “conclusion wasn’t reassuring.” She then quoted Pelosi herself.
“If things broke poorly for me,” Pelosi said, according to Page’s excerpt, “and the best-case scenario happened for my opponents, I would lose by five hundred to a thousand votes.”
So, Page wrote, Pelosi’s campaign “decided to fortify the get-out-the-vote effort with the goal of delivering five thousand additional Pelosi supporters to the polls.” She quotes Pelosi as saying these 5,000 votes were “a number chosen because it would, we hoped, give us a wide, safe margin.”
“As it turned out, she would need almost all of them,” Page wrote. “When the votes were being counted, Pelosi and Britt were locked in a dead heat.”
Page quotes former Pelosi aide Steve Morin as being worried about the potential outcome of the race. “Election Night was very tense,” Morin said. “I was sure we were going to win, but the early returns did not come in that way, and we’re all going, ‘Uh-oh.’” Page wrote:
At the watch party, word circulated that John Burton and Leo McCarthy, then the California lieutenant governor and a mentor, were enlisted for the ticklish task of warning the candidate, ‘to just prepare her that it was going to be closer than expected.’ In the ballots cast at polling places that day, it was all but a tie. Pelosi led Britt by only 450 votes. But she began to build a lead when the absentee ballots were counted. Among absentee voters, Pelosi led Britt by 3,540 votes, providing the lion’s share of her narrow margin of victory. That was no accident. Her campaign had used a network of local house parties to convince irregular voters, those who couldn’t be counted on to show up at the polls, to sign up for absentee ballots. The 27,000 absentee ballots made up about a quarter of the total vote.
But it was Pelosi’s overtures to Republicans in San Francisco that may have put her over the top. She literally blasted out mailers to registered Republicans in the San Francisco district, urging them to vote for her over Britt. Page wrote:
Pelosi had also made a quiet and crucial appeal for GOP support. Her campaign had drafted a letter labeled ‘Republican voter alert’ and decorated it with the party’s familiar elephant logo to mail to Republicans in the district. The message was a risky one that could inflame Democrats, if they heard about it. Local reporters covering the race heard that Nancy Pelosi was leery about sending it, that Paul Pelosi gave the final go-ahead. The signatures on the letter included George Christopher, the last Republican who had been elected mayor of San Francisco, nearly a quarter century earlier.
The letter, according to Page’s book, urged Republicans to pick Pelosi because it argued she was the lesser of two evils between her and Britt.
“It is clear that the next member of Congress from San Francisco will be a Democrat,” the letter read, according to Page’s book. “In a close election, we as Republicans have the ability to decide who our member of Congress will be.” The letter, according to Page, also wrote to GOP voters that Pelosi “will provide our city with the type of balanced representation that is long overdue.”
Page summed up the Pelosi GOP mailer message more succinctly in her own words “The message: If a Democrat was inevitably going to win, why not back the Democrat they liked most—or, put another way, disliked least?”
It was not the only such message Pelosi delivered to more Republican or conservative voters to try to get them to back her for the seat over Britt. “Another campaign mailer sent by the Pelosi campaign to the more conservative neighborhoods in the district sounded almost Reaganesque,” Page wrote.
In it, Pelosi’s campaign said she would fight against tax hikes. “The individual tax burden is too high,” the mailer said. “We need a representative who will fight all efforts to raise the personal income tax.”
The push by Pelosi to get Republicans to vote for her ended up being critical, and successful, Page wrote:
When the ballots were counted, Britt led Pelosi by wide margins in the most heavily Democratic precincts—in Noe Valley by 1,335 votes, in Mission by 1,273 votes, in Upper Market by an overwhelming 4,027 votes. Turnout had spiked in Upper Market, a largely gay neighborhood. But Pelosi had swamped Britt in outlying neighborhoods—in Sunset by 3,773 votes, in Outer Mission by 3,172 votes, West of Twin Peaks by 2,932. That was enough, barely, to win. She defeated Harry Britt by fewer than 4,000 votes, 36 percent to 32 percent. That made her the Democratic candidate in the runoff, for a district that was more than three-to-one Democratic. In other words, Nancy Pelosi prevailed in her first election to Congress thanks to Republican votes.
Pelosi represented California’s fifth congressional district for her first few terms in Congress. She later switched to the 8th district for two decades, before finally ending up in California’s 12th district, where has been for the last several years.