California Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier said Tuesday she would not seek reelection, the latest high-profile Democrat to announce plans to leave Congress as the party faces a steep climb to hold onto their narrow majority in the House in next year’s midterms.
Speier, who was first elected to her US House seat in 2008, has been one of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s closest allies in Congress. Her departure follows a series of recent announcements from Democrats making public their plans to leave Capitol Hill including Reps. John Yarmuth of Kentucky, David Price of North Carolina and Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania.
Speier is the 15th Democrat in the House to announce their intention to leave at the end of the term, compared to 10 Republicans. At this point in the 2020 cycle, 20 Republicans and eight Democrats were on track to leave the chamber at the end of the term.
Pelosi called Speier an “extraordinary Member of Congress and a significant leader” and said that it “has been my personal honor to share representation of San Francisco with her.”
“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 a statement.
Prior to serving in Congress, Speier, who is 71, survived the Jonestown massacre in 1978, where more than 900 people died in a mass murder-suicide. At the time, Speier was a congressional staffer for then-Rep. Leo J. Ryan. Speier was shot five times on a remote airstrip in Guyana, South America in an attack that also left the congressman and four others dead as they tried to escape, an experience she highlighted in her retirement announcement.
“Forty-three years ago this week, I was lying on an airstrip in the jungles of Guyuna with five bullet holes in my body,” Speier said in a video announcing her decision posted to her Twitter account. “I vowed that if I survived, I would dedicate my live to public service.”
“It has been a remarkable journey that has surpassed my wildest dreams. Today, I’m announcing that I will not be a candidate for reelection to Congress in 2022,” Speier said.
While in Washington, she has been especially focused on issues of sexual assault and harassment, including in the military and in Congress itself. She serves on the Oversight and Reform, Intelligence and Armed Services committees.
When outlining why she decided to not seek reelection, Speier said, “it’s time for me to come home. Time for me to be more than a weekend wife, mother and friend.”
Speier told CNN’s Erin Burnett on “OutFront” later Tuesday that she thought it was “time to pass the torch to a new generation.”
“Doesn’t mean I won’t be part of the community or active, publicly, on issues that I care about,” she added. “I still am very committed to the work that I’ve done here in Congress and in the state legislature in California.”
While California’s independent redistricting commission hasn’t yet finalized the state’s map for 2022, Speier represents much of the San Francisco peninsula, a heavily Democratic area.
This story has been updated with additional developments Tuesday.
CLARIFICATION: This story has been updated to clarify the death toll of the Jonestown tragedy.