Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: April 2008, 3rd full term.

Born: May 14, 1950, San Francisco

Home: Hillsborough

Education: U. of CA-Davis, B.A., 1972, U of CA-Hastings Col. of Law, J.D., 1976.

Professional Career: Staff aide, Rep. Leo Ryan, 1973-78, Dir. government affairs, Community Gatepath, 1996-98, Dir. government affairs, Electronic Arts, 1996-98, attorney, 2007-08.

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Catholic

Family: married (Barry Dennis) , 2 children

Democrat Jackie Speier won a special election in April 2008 to succeed Tom Lantos, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee who died during his 14th term in office. An ardent and outspoken liberal, she has focused on consumer-protection issues as well as on exposing rapes and sexual assaults within the military.

Born in San Francisco’s Sunset district, Speier (SPEER) graduated from the University of California, Davis, and got her law degree at UC Hastings College of the Law. While an undergraduate, she interned in Sacramento for Democratic Assemblyman Leo Ryan and later joined his staff after he was elected to Congress. In November 1978, Speier accompanied third-term Rep. Ryan on a trip to Jonestown, Guyana, to investigate claims that some of Ryan’s constituents, who were members of a church called the Peoples Temple, were being held against their will by the Rev. Jim Jones of San Francisco. Some defectors from the church joined Ryan’s entourage for the journey home, but the group made it only as far as the airport. Four assassins sent by Jones opened fire on the defenseless group. Ryan and four others, including two journalists, were killed. Speier was shot five times and left for dead on the airstrip, where she waited 15 hours before the Guyana police rescued her. In the meantime, Jones, back at his jungle camp, set in motion events that shocked the world. He forced his cult followers to commit “revolutionary suicide” by drinking poison-laced punch, which resulted in the deaths of more than 900 followers, some of them babies and children.

Once back in California, Speier underwent 10 surgeries, including skin grafts. Despite her injuries, she ran in the special election to succeed Ryan, but she got only 15% of the total vote and finished third among Democrats in the primary. She returned to the Bay Area and built her political career, starting on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors and then serving 18 years in the Legislature. Her pinnacle achievement was legislation protecting consumers’ privacy from invasive practices by banks and insurance companies. In 2006, she unsuccessfully sought the nomination for lieutenant governor. A year later she joined three other women in co-authoring a book, This Is Not the Life I Ordered: 50 Ways to Keep Your Head Above Water When Life Keeps Dragging You Down.

When Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor to serve in Congress, announced his retirement in early January 2008, he endorsed Speier as his successor. He died in February of complications from cancer of the esophagus. Speier immediately became the front-runner. She won the all-party election with 75% of the vote against four little-known opponents.

Immediately after she took her oath of office, she caused a ruckus when she launched a sharp partisan attack on President George W. Bush’s handling of the war in Iraq. “History will not judge us kindly if we sacrifice four generations of Americans because of the folly of one,” she declared. Her remarks triggered a volley of boos among Republican members on the floor and prompted Republican Rep. Darrell Issa of California to walk out of the chamber, claiming she had violated House rules of decorum. Speier responded that she had been “forthright.” Later, in March 2010, Speier joined 59 other Democrats in voting for a resolution requiring the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. Since then, as a member of the Armed Services Committee, she regularly has appeared on the House floor to speak about military men and women who have been raped or sexually assaulted, and she has taken a lead role in improving delivery of benefits to Bay Area veterans. For her efforts, Newsweek in 2012 named her to its list of 150 “Women Who Shake the World,” along with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and performer Lady Gaga.

In February 2011, during a House floor debate over funding for abortion providers, Speier emotionally discussed her own experience with abortion. She said that she had to terminate a pregnancy in the second trimester due to a serious medical complication, and she suggested that ardent anti-abortion rights Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., was mischaracterizing the procedure she had. “For you to stand on this floor and to suggest, as you have, that somehow this is a procedure that is either welcomed or done cavalierly or done without any thought is preposterous,” Speier said. When Illinois GOP Rep. Joe Walsh’s suggested abortions are never necessary to save the mother’s life, Speier said he “showed absolute ignorance about science and medicine.”

She drew additional attention in 2010 when she spent five days living on a food-stamp budget of $4.50 a day to call attention to rising poverty. That same year, she urged a recall of McDonald’s glasses promoting the movie Shrek that were tainted with cadmium, a carcinogen, and called on the online classified ad site Craigslist to shut down its adult services section, which critics said was used to advertise sex with underage girls. During debate on a major financial services regulatory bill in 2009, Speier passed in the House an amendment requiring big banks to have at least $1 in capital for every $15 in assets. In the final bill, lawmakers watered down the requirement, giving federal regulators the option of enforcing the limit only if a firm posed a “grave threat” to financial stability.

After a massive 2010 pipeline explosion in her district killed eight people, Speier introduced a pipeline safety bill. The measure, signed into law in January 2012, doubles the maximum fine for safety violations to $2 million, authorizes more pipeline inspectors, and requires automatic shut-off valves on new or replaced pipelines.

Speier considered running for state attorney general in 2010 but opted to stay in the House, easily winning reelection.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-3531

(202) 226-4183

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2465
Washington, DC 20515-0514

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-3531

(202) 226-4183

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2465
Washington, DC 20515-0514

DISTRICT OFFICE

(650) 342-0300

(650) 375-8270

155 Bovet Road Suite 780
San Mateo, CA 94402

DISTRICT OFFICE

(650) 342-0300

(650) 375-8270

155 Bovet Road Suite 780
San Mateo, CA 94402

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

(650) 347-4370

PO Box 112
Burlingame, CA 94011

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

PO Box 112
Burlingame, CA 94011

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Abortion

Molly Fishman
Senior Legislative Assistant

Acquisitions

Josh Connolly
Chief of Staff

Animal Rights

Miriam Goldstein
Legislative Assistant

James Pollack
Press Assistant; Legislative Correspondent

Appropriations

Josh Connolly
Chief of Staff

Justin Vogt
Legislative Director

Arts

James Pollack
Press Assistant; Legislative Correspondent

Banking

James Pollack
Press Assistant; Legislative Correspondent

Budget

Josh Connolly
Chief of Staff

Justin Vogt
Legislative Director

Census

Brian Perkins
District Director

Communication

Josh Connolly
Chief of Staff

Consumers

Brian Perkins
District Director

Disaster

Miriam Goldstein
Legislative Assistant

James Pollack
Press Assistant; Legislative Correspondent

Brian Perkins
District Director

Economics

Brian Perkins
District Director

Education

Josh Connolly
Chief of Staff

Molly Fishman
Senior Legislative Assistant

Energy

Miriam Goldstein
Legislative Assistant

James Pollack
Press Assistant; Legislative Correspondent

Justin Vogt
Legislative Director

Environment

Miriam Goldstein
Legislative Assistant

James Pollack
Press Assistant; Legislative Correspondent

Justin Vogt
Legislative Director

Finance

James Pollack
Press Assistant; Legislative Correspondent

Foreign

Josh Connolly
Chief of Staff

Justin Vogt
Legislative Director

Govt Ops

James Pollack
Press Assistant; Legislative Correspondent

Brian Perkins
District Director

Grants

Brian Perkins
District Director

Health

Molly Fishman
Senior Legislative Assistant

Brian Perkins
District Director

Homeland Security

Justin Vogt
Legislative Director

Housing

Molly Fishman
Senior Legislative Assistant

James Pollack
Press Assistant; Legislative Correspondent

Brian Perkins
District Director

Human Rights

Josh Connolly
Chief of Staff

James Pollack
Press Assistant; Legislative Correspondent

Immigration

Josh Connolly
Chief of Staff

Insurance

Brian Perkins
District Director

Intelligence

Josh Connolly
Chief of Staff

Justin Vogt
Legislative Director

Intergovernmental

Brian Perkins
District Director

Judiciary

Josh Connolly
Chief of Staff

Labor

Brian Perkins
District Director

Justin Vogt
Legislative Director

Military

Josh Connolly
Chief of Staff

Justin Vogt
Legislative Director

Public Works

Brian Perkins
District Director

Justin Vogt
Legislative Director

Regulation

Brian Perkins
District Director

Science

Miriam Goldstein
Legislative Assistant

James Pollack
Press Assistant; Legislative Correspondent

Small Business

Brian Perkins
District Director

Tax

Josh Connolly
Chief of Staff

Brian Perkins
District Director

Justin Vogt
Legislative Director

Technology

Josh Connolly
Chief of Staff

Telecommunications

Josh Connolly
Chief of Staff

Justin Vogt
Legislative Director

Trade

Josh Connolly
Chief of Staff

Brian Perkins
District Director

Transportation

Brian Perkins
District Director

Justin Vogt
Legislative Director

Veterans

Josh Connolly
Chief of Staff

Richard Steffen
Senior Advisor

Mark Nagales
Constituent Services Director

Women

Molly Fishman
Senior Legislative Assistant

Election Results

2012 GENERAL
Jackie Speier
Votes: 203,828
Percent: 78.92%
Deborah Bacigalupi
Votes: 54,455
Percent: 21.08%
2012 PRIMARY
Jackie Speier
Votes: 80,850
Percent: 74.34%
Deborah Bacigalupi
Votes: 23,299
Percent: 21.42%
2010 GENERAL
Jackie Speier
Votes: 152,044
Percent: 75.58%
Mike Moloney
Votes: 44,475
Percent: 22.11%
2010 PRIMARY
Jackie Speier
Votes: 64,770
Percent: 100.0%
2008 GENERAL
Jackie Speier
Votes: 200,442
Percent: 75.11%
Greg Conlon
Votes: 49,258
Percent: 18.46%
2008 PRIMARY
Jackie Speier
Votes: 60,393
Percent: 89.52%
Michelle McMurry
Votes: 3,827
Percent: 5.67%
2008 SPECIAL
Jackie Speier
Votes: 66,279
Percent: 77.0%
Greg Conlon
Votes: 7,990
Percent: 9.0%
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (76%), 2008 (75%); 2008 special (78%)

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