Blogs > Ronald L. Feinman > The Massive Influence of Northern California Democratic Leaders in American Politics

Dec 9, 2019

The Massive Influence of Northern California Democratic Leaders in American Politics

tags: political history,San Francisco,Northern California

Ronald L. Feinman is the author of “Assassinations, Threats, and the American Presidency: From Andrew Jackson to Barack Obama” (Rowman Littlefield Publishers, 2015)  A paperback edition is now available.

Northern California Democrats have played a major role in American politics in recent decades, and have reached a peak in the time of President Donald Trump.

Past Democrats from Northern California, particularly around San Francisco, included Governor Eugene (Pat) Brown (1959-1967), and Senator Barbara Boxer (1993-2017), who also served in the House of Representatives (1983-1993). 

Additionally, Pat Brown’s son, Jerry Brown, served as Governor when he was young (1975-1983) and again three decades later (2011-2019), along with being Oakland Mayor (1999-2007) and California Attorney General (2007-2011). Jerry Brown also sought the Presidency three times, in 1976, 1980, and 1992.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer has been a major liberal influence in his 25 years on the high Court since confirmation in 1994, by appointment of President Bill Clinton.

Presently, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is in her second round as the highest ranking woman in American government history. Pelosi has served in Congress since 1987 and was previously the Speaker of the House from 2007-2011. Pelosi is setting the standard on how to control her Democratic majority and also deal with the danger and threat presented by President Donald Trump as the impeachment inquiry that she so craftily developed moves forward.

Two San Francisco based members of the House of Representatives have also played a major role in present impeachment efforts. Congressman Eric Swalwell (2013-present) serves on the House Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Judiciary Committee, both key posts involved in the impeachment effort, and briefly sought the Presidency.Congresswoman Jackie Speier (2008- present) is also on the House Select Committee on Intelligence in the present impeachment investigation.

Further, former San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein (1978-1988) has served in the US Senate since 1992 and is Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. She chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee when the Democrats had control before 2015.

The other California Senator, Kamala Harris, came to the Senate in 2017 after serving as California Attorney General from 2011-2017, and District Attorney of San Francisco from 2004-2011.  She recently ended her candidacy for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2020.

Additionally, Governor Gavin Newsom, who took office in 2019, was previously Lieutenant Governor under Governor Jerry Brown (2011-2019), and also served as San Francisco Mayor from 2004-2011.

It is rare for one city and one area of any state to have as great of an impact on American life as San Francisco and Northern California have had. The impact of these political leaders will still be significant in the 2020s.

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