Nancy Pelosi's big win

Hometown girl: A child of Baltimore's storied D'Alesandro family reaches congressional peak.

October 11, 2001

FOR MARYLAND, Rep. Nancy Pelosi's rise to the second-highest office in the Republican-controlled House had a bittersweet quality.

On a vote of 118-95, she became Democratic whip at the expense of another talented Marylander, Rep. Steny H. Hoyer. Mr. Hoyer would certainly have had more power to wield on behalf of this state had he won, but his value to the House and to his Southern Maryland district should be undiminished. Although this is the second time he has failed to win this post, he would not have drawn 95 votes without considerable respect from his colleagues.

The winner becomes the highest-ranking woman in the history of the U.S. House.

Ms. Pelosi takes over on Jan. 15 when Rep. David Bonior leaves to run for governor of Michigan.

The liberal Californian, who represents a district in San Francisco, built victory on her fund-raising acumen and respect for her advocacy of human rights in China, federal assistance for AIDS research and abortion rights. Her victory, some suggest already, could put her in the running for higher office.

Ms. Pelosi, 61, represents yet another political milestone for one of Maryland and Baltimore's most successful political families. Her father, Thomas J. D'Alesandro Jr., served in the Maryland House of Delegates, the U.S. House of Representatives and as mayor of the city. Her brother, Thomas J. D'Alesandro III, was a highly respected mayor of Baltimore.

As chief lieutenant to House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt of Missouri, her responsibilities will include knowing how her colleagues will vote on important issues, a talent she learned in Little Italy -- and displayed in her victory yesterday.

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