What Nancy Pelosi’s Endorsement Means For the California Senate Race

House Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi — who rarely weighs in on Democrat-versus-Democrat races — is endorsing Burbank Rep. Adam Schiff for Senate if Sen. Dianne Feinstein declines to run in what will be a fiercely contested, possibly once-in-a-generation contest.

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It is the strongest sign yet that Feinstein will not seek re-election in 2024. Feinstein, 89, has said she will announce her intentions by spring. Pelosi delicately nodded to her Pacific Heights neighbor’s timeline in a statement obtained by The Chronicle Thursday: “If Senator Feinstein decides to seek re-election, she has my whole-hearted support.”

If Feinstein doesn’t run, Pelosi said in the statement, “I will be supporting House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff, who knows well the nexus between a strong democracy and a strong economy. In his service in the House, he has focused on strengthening our democracy with justice and on building an economy that works for all.” Last month, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy removed Schiff from the House Intelligence Committee where has served since 2008 and chaired from 2019 to 2023.

Pelosi’s endorsement marks a rare occasion in which she is wading into a race with no incumbent and multiple high-profile Democratic House members. It is also a huge boon for Schiff. Pelosi has previously endorsed the two other Democrats seeking the seat in their House races, Rep. Katie Porter, and Rep. Barbara Lee. Porter, D-Irvine, announced her campaign last month, while Lee, D-Oakland, is expected to officially announce her run soon.

Wade Randlett, a national Democratic donor from San Francisco who supports Schiff, said that “an endorsement in any open-seat Democratic primary from the greatest speaker of all time is golden. But to get it this early when there are at least three members of her caucus running is a Willie Wonka ticket.”

Pelosi and Schiff have had a close professional relationship. She tapped him to lead the first impeachment of President Donald Trump and to the panel investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

Trump and his MAGA supporters have relentlessly targeted Pelosi and Schiff for their dogged pursuit of the former president. On Thursday, Pelosi commended Schiff’s strength in withstanding their attacks.

“Ever since I supported Adam in his race for Congress in 2000, I have known his commitment to putting the American Dream in place for everyone,” Pelosi said. “Coming from a family of immigrants, Adam has dedicated his life to public service. Every time I have asked Adam to take on the tough fight against extremist forces, he has responded with integrity, strength and success.”

Schiff said he was “deeply honored and so proud to have the support of Speaker Pelosi, who has been a friend and mentor throughout my time in Congress. She has accomplished so much for Californians, for children and for working families, and deeply understands the challenges to our democracy that lie ahead,” according to a statement obtained by The Chronicle.

Not only is Pelosi, the first female speaker of the House, one of the most popular figures in the Democratic Party, she is its most prolific fundraiser and could steer donors to Schiff. She has raised more than $1 billion for Democrats since she ascended into party leadership two decades ago.

Schiff’s campaign coffers hold nearly $21 million cash on hand, which could give him an early advantage in what is expected to be an expensive race. Porter has $7.7 million in cash on hand, according to the latest federal campaign finance report. She raised $25 million last year but had to drain much of that in an unexpectedly tough House race in a redrawn, more GOP district. Lee has only $54,940.

It is also notable that Pelosi endorsed Schiff over two women. Porter is a member of the House Progressive Caucus. Lee is a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and co-chair of the Progressive Caucus. Lee plans to make representation a central theme of her campaign.

One of the challenges that Schiff may face in the primary in deep blue California is being a straight white man in a diverse state.

California was represented in the Senate by two women from 1993-2021. Feinstein and Barbara Boxer were the first women elected to the Senate from California in 1992. Kamala Harris replaced Boxer after she retired in 2016 and served until she was sworn in as vice president in early 2021. California’s other senator is Sen. Alex Padilla, who is the first Latino to represent California.

The nod from Pelosi, a pioneering woman in the political world and a role model to many, will help Schiff in that regard.

The endorsement is also unusual since Pelosi has picked her spots in weighing in on top Democrat versus Democrat contests.

She didn’t take sides in the 2008 presidential primary battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. In 2016, she didn’t endorse Clinton over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders until the morning of the California primary, when she announced her support of Clinton on ABC’s “The View.”

That’s in contrast to what Pelosi had told reporters in San Francisco five weeks earlier, when she said she was withholding her endorsement so as not to dampen enthusiasm among supporters of either candidate.

“I have a responsibility to elect a Democratic House because whenever we get a new president — whomever she may be — we want that president to have the strongest possible Democratic Congress,” Pelosi said then.

She also has picked incumbents over rising Democratic stars. She endorsed Rep. Mike Honda (twice) and former Rep. Tom Lantos over now-Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Santa Clara, when Khanna challenged the incumbents. And she backed incumbent Rep. Pete Stark over now-Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Livermore, in 2012.

In choosing Schiff, Pelosi said, “America is at a crossroads. We can continue to lift our communities, strengthen our economy and defend our democracy — or let Republicans roll back our progress, threaten our freedoms and give tax breaks to the wealthy special interests. In 2024, the fight for America’s future is on the ballot.”

Click here to read the full article in the San Francisco Chronicle


  1. KJNofConcord says

    I really don’t care what Pelosi thinks or says…she needs to take Paul’s hand and walk off into the sunset.

    IMHO, CA needs a senator who isn’t a blatant liar and an all around schmuck like Pencil Neck Schiff. We would be doing a dis-service by putting this twisted liar in as a senator. It would be a further stain on CA’s reputation!!!

  2. The senior Swamp Rat is riding off in the sunset with her ill gotten Wall Street booty. The Queen of political contributions will be hard to replace. Knowing where all the skeletons are buried makes you omnipotent in Washington. Pelosi, a name that will live in infamy.
    Schiff is the logical replacement. He has no morals, tells obvious lies perpetually and has never had a hand in any legislation that actually helps California or America. He has a giant war chest. In other words a perfect democrat.
    With over 50% of voting California on the dole he will be a shoe in, as a status quo socialist replacement.
    Until they run out of other peoples money.

  3. If Schifty can be tied to with holding of the Trump Doc’s that made it clear there were no Russian Gate, and he with held docs regarding Biden’s corrupt Son’s Laptop that would have sunk the Biden election. It should be enough to stop Schifty.

    But with the Dem. registration most likely it will result in another D taking his place.

    I think even the Dems are tired of the top two. It is absolutely obvious that the environmental sector of Calif. Dem’s are angry that they have been cast aside by the Dem. establishment.

    They have lost serious political influence. If they are not willing to a) go back to the previous primary system, and b) establish paper ballots with little allowance for mail in voting the environmental sector of the Dem establishment is dead.

    San Fran Nan, has proven how corruptly she ran the House. Even Dem friends are quietly talking about the corruption. They hate Trump but are concerned she and the establishment for the North East are taking the nation down the rabbit hole.

  4. Does it matter? Adam Schiff or Katie Porter, they are both ignorant Marxists bent on destroying the United States of America. California shows Americans in other states what happens when you have weak Republican leadership (CAGOP led by the overpaid and quite useless Jessica Patterson) and let the progressives take over. Maybe Californians will all die off since we can’t afford to use our water, gas or electricity! Long live the Delta smelt!

  5. Susan Moxon says

    The bottom line is….Who is the Republican Party going to start promoting to run against Adam Schiff???? Let’s think ahead for a change! Start getting a strong candidate out there so we can have a real race for that Senate seat! Let’s be pro-active for a change and not act like we didn’t know this was happening until it’s too late. Wake up CAGOP!

  6. Pelosi’s ‘endorsement’ of any socialist Dem makes me want to PUKE.

  7. Elmer Frabb says

    Adam Shitt is slimey’er than a snot covered jellyfish. He makes me believe in retroactive abortions.

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