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Jackie Speier Becomes 14th House Democrat to Opt Out of 2022 Race

November 16, 2021 by Dan McCue
Rep. Jackie Speier at Monday's bipartisan infrastructure bill signing at the White House. (Photo from Twitter)

WASHINGTON  — Rep. Jackie Speier, who devoted her life to public services after a horrifying brush with death at the hands of a cult leader, said Tuesday she will not seek reelection to the House in 2022, making her the 14th Democrat in the chamber to decide against running for another term.

Speier, a seven-term congresswoman from the San Francisco Bay area, made her announcement via a video posted to her social media accounts.

In it, she reflects with pride on her life and her years of public service, but concludes “It’s time for me to come home — time for me to be more than a weekend wife, mother and friend.”

“It’s been an extraordinary privilege and honor to represent the people of San Mateo County and San Francisco at almost every level of government for nearly four decades,” she said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, with whom Speier shared representation of San Francisco in Congress, called her longtime friend and ally “an extraordinary member of Congress and a significant leader for our country.”

“Her courageous and values-based leadership, particularly on behalf of the women, survivors and the vulnerable, has made a difference in the lives of countless Americans and has strengthened our nation,” Pelosi said.

In her video, Speier recalled the tragedy that redefined her life and inspired her to enter public service.

It was 1978, and she had accompanied her boss Rep. Leo Ryan on a flight to Guyana where he intended to investigate claims 900 followers of the cult leader Jim Jones were being held in the Peoples Temple Jonestown settlement against their will.

After attempts to speak with Jones proved fruitless, Ryan and his party returned to a local airstrip to fly back home. Instead, as they waited on the tarmac to board their flight, the party, including Speier, was gunned down by followers of Jones.

Ryan died instantly, making him only the second sitting member of the House to be assassinated while in office. Four others in his traveling party were killed.

Speier, shot five times, was left for dead.

“Forty-three years ago this week, I was lying on an airstrip in the jungles of Guyana … I vowed that if I survived, I would dedicate my life to public service,” Speier said in the video. “I lived and I served.”

Speier’s political career began with an unsuccessful run to fill the vacancy caused by Ryan’s death.

But in 1980, she ran for the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, defeating a 20-year incumbent. She was reelected in 1984 and was later selected as the body’s  chairwoman.

She was elected to the California State Assembly, ultimately being reelected to four more terms, before being elected to the California State Senate.

She ran unsuccessfully for California lieutenant governor in 2006 but rebounded by running for Congress, where she’s been ever since.

In her farewell to Speier, Pelosi said her friend had fought to keep men and women in uniform safe, had defended economic security for all Americans, and been an advocate for “those who are too often denied a voice.”

“Her colleagues in the Congress look forward to continuing to benefit from her leadership for the remainder of her term, and from her legacy for years to come,” the speaker said.

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue.

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