By Kim Christensen
Photos by Tumay Aslay
SAN FRANCISCO – Christine Pelosi brought out star power and her cool mom – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – to fire up the Women’s Caucus event at the California Democratic Party convention on Saturday in San Francisco. Under the theme #MyChoice, the protection of Planned Parenthood and abortion rights were highlighted as top political priorities and got big cheers from the room. Squeezed in tight, the crowd heard speeches from Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other key Democratic party leaders.
Three 2020 presidential candidates showed up - Senators Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Bernie Sanders - to tout their commitments to fight for reproductive rights. Senator Kamala Harris rode a wave of cheers on her way to the microphone, remarking, “This Women’s Caucus is so damn badass!” Harris talked about fighting for women to make decisions about their own bodies and about her equal pay plan that would require companies to show that they are paying workers fairly.
Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar emphasized that she is a successful Democrat who could win in red states and she absolutely believes a woman can beat Trump. At the end she quipped, “As we like to joke . . . may the best woman win!” Bernie Sanders arrived with a mini-parade of supporters, spoke about fighting abortion bans, and made a promise only to nominate Supreme Court justices who are “100 percent in favor of defending Roe v. Wade.”
California’s Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis, State Treasurer Fiona Ma, and Controller Betty Yee spoke to the energized crowd of activists, as did San Francisco Mayor London Breed. Kimberly Ellis, former Executive Director of Emerge California and candidate for California Democratic Party Chair, made her pitch for the leadership job. She called out the need for a “culture shift” in the party and an end to corruption and sexual harassment. Ellis ultimately was not successful at the Convention, which elected union leader Rusty Hicks to lead the state party.
Christine Pelosi was re-elected Chair of the Women’s Caucus at this event, which was co-sponsored by Planned Parenthood in keeping with the #MyChoice theme. Christine Pelosi noted that Planned Parenthood is widely popular and well-respected in the country, but their “opponents are trying to ruin the brand of Planned Parenthood.”
Speaking out against the wave of abortion bans flooding the states in the South and Midwest, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “These bans cannot stand!” “Here’s the thing, we just have to win the elections,” Speaker Pelosi said. “These are desperate people. I don’t know why they have a problem with women advancing.”
Her speech was interrupted by a few calls from the crowd to “impeach!”- but she continued focused on the theme of protecting abortion rights and Planned Parenthood. “Tip O’Neill said all politics is local. No, it’s very personal,” said Pelosi strongly. “They are saying to women, we are going to control your bodies.”
Speaker Pelosi urged women in the room to “know your power” and also to “elect a Democrat president of the United States, a pro-choice president of the United States!” The theme of this Women’s Caucus was on point, as abortion rights are quickly becoming a driving political issue in the 2020 campaigns.