Opinion: Jackie Speier damages her own legacy with a selfish decision

Sept. 25, 2023

Daily Post Editor

Former Peninsula Congresswoman Jackie Speier has made it clear that she’s the kingpin of San Mateo County politics. But at the same time, she’s damaged her own reputation.

She’s decided to come out of retirement and run for a seat on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. She has a lot of name recognition and she can raise millions, if need be, to capture the seat. So opposing her is pointless.

As a result, her announcement ended the campaigns of Burlingame Councilwoman Emily Beach and Millbrae Councilwoman Gina Papan.

Beach and Papan had each earned the opportunity to run for supervisor after years of service in their city governments. The voters deserved the right to choose between the two of them. Voters could have scrutinized their records and the merit of their positions, and picked a candidate who had the best vision for the county.

Now, that’s not going to happen.

Beach and Papan withdrew from the race on Tuesday. Each issued press releases praising Speier. In other words, rather than complaining, they indicated they’d be good team players.

I’ve got a couple of questions.

Why, at age 73, is Speier returning to politics? She was in Congress for 15 years. Before that, she was in the state Legislature and on the county board of supervisors. Wasn’t that enough time to accomplish whatever legislative goals she had?

And why isn’t she promoting the next generation of women leaders? Speier has always talked about getting more women elected to office. Then, last year, she endorsed Kevin Mullin when he ran for the House seat she was giving up. Given her position on putting women into office, it was conspicuous that she didn’t support Emily Beach, who sought that spot as well.

Speier’s decision to push Papan and Beach aside isn’t helpful to the Democratic Party, which is battling an age problem. The public is saying in polls that it wants younger leaders at a time when Democratic office holders include President Biden (age 80), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (90), and Congresswomen Anna Eshoo (80) and Nancy Pelosi (83).

Graciously supporting either Beach or Papan would have been a way to usher in a new generation of Democratic Party leadership on the Peninsula.

Beach is 49 and Papan is 61.

Speier’s decision to jump into this race, after two accomplished candidates had already started their campaigns, comes off as selfish and egotistical — a final attempt by an aging lawmaker to grab the spotlight.

It’s not too late to withdraw from the race and retire in dignity.

Editor Dave Price’s column appears on Mondays. His email address is [email protected].A

Correction: Speier’s age has been corrected in this version.


  1. This county is in desperate need of new leadership, and Speier’s retirement opened the door to some much needed changes. But unfortunately we got Kevin Mullin, a Speier protege who has done nothing for his constituents since he came into office. The BOS is a joke too.

  2. Too bad Quentin Kopp lives in San Francisco. He’s only 95, but I’d bet he’d love to run against the Poodle.
    Speier is a classic example of a Democrat who can’t get off the stage.

  3. Nice to be the editor. You can troll everybody.
    Jackie Speier has shown that she’s honest, competent and dedicated to public service.
    She did step aside for a younger person when she endorsed Kevin Mullin for Congress, a position that doesn’t have term limits.

      • To many to list, but let’s start with this:

        Speier, Turner Introduce Bipartisan Vanessa Guillén Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act to Remove Sexual Assault Prosecution Decisions from the Chain of Command

        Anonymous must be a man and is unaware of issues experienced by the other half of society. Your ignorance and sexism is showing.

        • Speier’s fans can name only one bill in 15 years, and that bill doesn’t directly affect her district. What legislation has she passed that improved the lives of her constituents? That’s not a sexist comment because, theoretically, she was supposed to represent both men and women in Washington.

          Don’t name call — just answer the question.

        • Name a bill she passed that directly affected her constituents. You say there are “to (sic) many to list,” so listing just one ought to be easy.

          • I’ve looked and couldn’t find any bills she passed that applied to residents here. So, yes, KT, I admit she didn’t get anything done for her district. But she played an invaluable role in passing President Biden’s legislation. She was a reliable vote for the Democratic agenda and the Green New Deal. So while those aren’t specifically local, they’re good enough for me.

  4. Why do these politicians have to hang on until they die? I’d favor a constitutional amendment putting an age limit on all elected offices, local, county, state and U.S. How about 65?

  5. Jackie Speier accomplished in Congress what others had not been able to do after decades of trying: get military sexual assault cases reported outside the chain of command. Jackie knows how to make government work and is dedicated to her constituents.

    • What has she done for those of us who live in her district? I can’t name a thing. The Air Force thing is fine for those at the academy in Colorado Springs or various air bases. But what did she accomplish here?

  6. The best thing for everyone concerned is for Jackie to step back and withdraw from the race, let the two women run who earned a place at the table. Jackie won’t be able to erase this poor decision, but she can correct a bad error in judgment. This is sad that she did this to herself at the end of what had been a stellar career. (Kudos to the Palo Alto Daily for its truthful reporting!)

Comments are closed.