Nancy Pelosi, set to become the first woman, Californian and Italian-American speaker of the House, defied the odds to drive her party to victory. According to a San Francisco Chronicle profile, Pelosi’s determination and cold calculation had as much to do with the Democrats’ success as President Bush’s unpopularity.

San Francisco Chronicle:

Washington — On a snowy morning last December when the talk in Washington was that Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s support for pulling troops from Iraq might cost Democrats the 2006 election, a reporter asked Pelosi whether she needed to gain seats in the coming election to return as Democratic leader.

“I fully intend to be standing here as speaker of the House next year. Any other questions?” Pelosi responded.

Nearly a year later, Pelosi has exceeded even her own expectations. Not only will she be speaker, but her party will govern with a comfortable majority after picking up at least 28 seats. The Senate will be in Democratic hands. Her picture is expected next week on the covers of Time and Newsweek, and there is already talk that she should run for president in 2008.

So how did the San Francisco congresswoman, who even some Democrats said was too partisan, liberal and shrill to lead the party, take them to the majority?

The answer has as much to do with the tactical skills Pelosi developed as chair of the California Democratic Party in the early 1980s as her positions on policy matters such as the war, which now are regarded well within the mainstream of American politics.

Pelosi is a hands-on political operator who was personally involved in more than 60 congressional races through election day and continues to closely monitor seven races that still are not final, aides say.


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