For over three decades, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has represented one of the most liberal districts in the entire country — but in this year’s primary election, she is facing a challenger from the left, and he’s asking some stunning questions.
According to an article published last week in the San Francisco Chronicle, attorney and self-described democratic socialist Shahid Buttar wants to know why Pelosi isn’t willing to face him for a debate.
Challenger blasts Pelosi
The 45-year-old Buttar has created an online petition titled “Tell Nancy Pelosi: Stop Dodging Debates.” Buttar also staged a mock debate in which he faced off against an empty chair that had had Pelosi’s name on it.
The Chronicle went on to quote Buttar as dismissing Pelosi’s frequent press conferences as little more than “grandstanding and theater.”
“The kind of questions you get from a reporter are not the kind you get from an opponent,” Buttar complained. “I do think it’s revealing that she hasn’t defended her record. It behooves her to defend her record, even though it’s indefensible.”
Sticking with the speaker
While Buttar is promoting a hard-left agenda, some high-profile progressives in her district have nevertheless decided to back Pelosi, with San Francisco Democratic Party Chairman David Campos among them, according to the Chronicle. Campos, who once served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, doesn’t object to the House speaker’s decision not to face Buttar in a debate, saying, “It’s up to her to make that decision.”
While Campos acknowledges that he is in agreement with Buttar on “just about everything” and backed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for the presidency, he believes that Pelosi is in a better position to advance his beliefs.
“I don’t believe that [Buttar] has really presented a strong justification to remove Nancy Pelosi from being speaker of the House, Campos stated, according to the Chronicle. “She’ll do more to advance the progressive agenda forward than he would.
Surviving the attacks
The Chronicle also quoted author Molly Ball, who has just completed a biography about the longtime California Democrat entitled Pelosi.
As Ball notes, Pelosi has a history of surviving challenges from her party’s left flank, starting with her “opponent in 1987, a democratic socialist who accused her of buying the election on behalf of corporations and special interests.”
Other attacks on Pelosi over the years have come from protesters during the Iraq War as well as the more radical members of her current caucus, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN).
Only time will tell whether the speaker can withstand the pressure that is clearly mounting from the progressive wing of her party and return to Washington for an eye-watering 18th term in Congress.