Jackie Speier

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Jackie Speier
Jackie Speier, official photo portrait, 111th Congress.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 14th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded by Anna Eshoo
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 12th district
In office
April 8, 2008 – January 3, 2013
Preceded by Tom Lantos
Succeeded by Nancy Pelosi
Member of the California Senate
from the 8th district
In office
Preceded by Quentin L. Kopp
Succeeded by Leland Yee
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 19th district
In office
Preceded by Lou Papan
Succeeded by Lou Papan
San Mateo County Supervisor
In office
Personal details
Born Karen Lorraine Speier[1]
(1950-05-14) May 14, 1950 (age 64)
San Francisco, California
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Steve Sierra (1987-1994; his death; 2 children)
Barry Dennis (2001-present)
Children Jackson, Stephanie
Residence Hillsborough, California
Alma mater University of California, Davis
UC Hastings College of the Law
Occupation Attorney, political assistant
Religion Roman Catholic
Website Congresswoman Jackie Speier

Karen Lorraine Jacqueline "Jackie" Speier[2] (/ˈspɪər/; born May 14, 1950) is the U.S. Representative for California's 14th congressional district, serving in Congress since 2008. She is a member of the Democratic Party. The district, numbered as the 12th District from 2008 to 2013, includes the northern two-thirds of San Mateo County and the southwest quarter of San Francisco. She represents much of the territory that had been represented by her political mentor, Leo Ryan.

She is also a former member of the California State Senate who represented parts of San Francisco and San Mateo counties. On April 8, 2008, she won the special election for the vacated United States House of Representatives seat of late Congressman Tom Lantos.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Speier was born in 1950 in San Francisco, and grew up in an apolitical, working-class family, the daughter of Nancy (née Kanchelian) and Manfred "Fred" Speier.[4] Her mother was of Armenian descent, while her father was an immigrant from Germany. Speier took Jacqueline as her confirmation name after Jackie Kennedy.[5] She is a graduate of Mercy High School in Burlingame. (Her daughter graduated from there in 2012.) She earned a B.A. from the University of California, Davis, and a J.D. from the University of California Hastings College of the Law in 1976.[6]

Marriage and family[edit]

She married Dr. Steven Sierra, an emergency room doctor, in 1987.[7][8] They had a son Jackson Kent, born in 1988 while she was serving as a member of the California State Assembly.[9] Her husband died in a car accident in 1994 at the age of 53.[7] At the time, Jackie was two months pregnant with their second child, a daughter she named Stephanie.[9]

In 2001 Speier married Barry Dennis, an investment consultant.[7][10]

Congressional aide[edit]

Congressman Leo Ryan

Speier entered politics by serving as a congressional staffer for Congressman Leo Ryan. Speier was part of his November 1978 fact-finding mission organized to investigate allegations of human rights abuses by the Reverend Jim Jones and his Peoples Temple followers, almost all of whom were American citizens who had moved to Jonestown, Guyana, with Jones in 1977 and 1978.[5] Speier was one of two members of the mission who made wills before traveling to Jonestown.[11] Several Peoples Temple members ambushed the investigative team and others boarding the plane to leave Jonestown on November 18. Five people died, including Congressman Ryan. While trying to shield herself from rifle and shotgun fire behind small airplane wheels with the other members of the team, Speier was shot five times and waited 22 hours before help arrived.[12] That same day, over 900 of the remaining members of the Peoples Temple died in Jonestown and Georgetown in a mass murder-suicide.

Political career[edit]

San Mateo County[edit]

Speier's own political career began with an unsuccessful run to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Congressman Ryan (the seat she holds now).[5] She lost the Democratic primary to another former Ryan staffer, G. W. "Joe" Holsinger. He lost to the Republican candidate Bill Royer, San Mateo County Supervisor.

Speier won her first election in 1980, when she ran for the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors and defeated a 20-year incumbent. At the time, she was the youngest person ever elected to the board. She was reelected in 1984, and was later selected as chairwoman.[12]

California State Assembly[edit]

In 1986, midway through her second term on the Board of Supervisors, she ran for the California State Assembly from a district in northern San Mateo County. She won by a few hundred votes. She was reelected five more times, the last as the nominee of both the Democratic and Republican parties.[13]

California State Senate[edit]

Speier as a California state senator

California state term limits forced Speier to give up her Assembly seat in 1996, but in 1998 she was elected to the California State Senate. In 2002, she was elected to a second term with 78.2% of the vote.[14] As a state senator, Speier was instrumental in securing $127 million funding for major service improvements to Caltrain, for which the commuter rail agency named a new locomotive (no. 925) for her. Speier also focused on representing consumer rights.[15] Senator Speier was termed out of the California State Senate in 2006. Speier served as assistant president pro tempore of the California State Senate during her last term.

Caltrain Locomotive named after Jackie Speier

Candidate for Lieutenant Governor of California[edit]

In 2006, Speier ran in the Democratic primary for Lieutenant governor of California against insurance commissioner John Garamendi and state senator Liz Figueroa. At the June 6, 2006, elections, Speier was defeated by Garamendi in a close race. Garamendi received 42.9%, Speier received 39.3%, and Figueroa received the remaining 17.8% of the vote.

2008 presidential campaign[edit]

Speier endorsed Hillary Clinton's bid for president.[16]

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

On January 13, 2008, Speier announced she was running in the Democratic primary for the 12th District, Ryan's old district. The seat was being vacated by 14-term incumbent and fellow Democrat Tom Lantos, who announced on January 2, 2008, that he was not seeking re-election. Speier had spent much of 2007 building support to challenge Lantos in the Democratic primary.[17]

On January 17, 2008, Lantos endorsed Speier as his successor. She also picked up endorsements from Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, Congressman Mike Thompson and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Lantos died February 11, 2008. Speier won a special primary election on April 8, 2008, to fill the remainder of his term, which ended in January 2009. She won an outright majority, avoiding a runoff that would have been held on June 3, coinciding with the regular primary election.[18] Speier easily won the Democratic primary on June 3. The then-12th, now-14th was so heavily Democratic that this virtually assured her of a full term.[19] She was elected to a full term in November with 75 percent of the vote, and has been reelected two more times with no substantive opposition.

On July 11, 2008, Speier introduced her first bill, the Gasoline Savings and Speed Limit Reduction Act, which would set a national speed limit of 60 mph in urban areas and 65 mph on less-populated stretches of highway.

Political views[edit]

Earlier photo of Speier


Speier supports legal abortion. When she took the National Political Awareness Test in 2002, she answered, “Abortions should always be legally available”.[20] The organization NARAL Pro-Choice America rated Jackie Speier as 100% on interest group ratings because she supported the choice of abortion in her voting for legislation.[21] Also, in 2008 the Planned Parenthood Organization gave Speier a 100% on her actions regarding abortion.[20] In a speech on the House floor on February 17, 2011, Speier said that she herself had undergone an emergency D&E procedure when complications developed in a wanted pregnancy.[22][23]

Gun control[edit]

Speier believes in a stricter view of gun control. According to her answers on the NPAT (National Political Awareness Test) she would like to require safety locks on all guns and background checks on prospective buyers as well as ban certain guns (other than for hunting) and strengthen state restrictions on buying and owning guns.[20] To show that her legislation currently follows what she answered on the NPAT, when the Gun Owners of America graded Jackie Speier, they gave her an "F" grade and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Jack Berman Advocacy Center gave her a 100%.[20][21] The National Rifle Association (NRA) and Gun Owners of California also gave Speier a low grade on gun rights.[20]

Environment and energy[edit]

Speier is concerned for the protection of the environment and wants to preserve the health of this planet. She lists as evidence the decline of salmon on the West Coast as proof of global warming.[24] Speier believes global warming poses a growing danger and negatively affects the environment. When she spoke to the House on the subject of global warming and the environment, she expressed a desire “to craft a bipartisan and commonsense energy plan that makes polluters pay, provides for middle-class energy tax credits, and creates a new industry and lots of good, clean, green jobs”.[25] Jackie Speier is working to improve energy legislation with the Clean Air Rebate Act of 2009, the Home Star Act and the American Clean Energy and Security Act.[26][27]

Urban terrorism[edit]

Speier introduced legislation to enhance information sharing between the Transportation Security Administration and participating mass transit agencies in high-risk jurisdictions. The goal of this expanded relationship would be to thwart terrorist attacks against high-profile transit targets.[28] [29]

Gay rights[edit]

Speier supports same-sex marriage. She is a member of the LGBT Equality Caucus.[30]

Congressional committee assignments[edit]


Electoral history[edit]

California Congressional District 11, special election (round 1), March 6, 1979[31]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic G. W. Holsinger 20,908 24.3%
Republican William Royer 19,592 22.7%
Democratic George Corey 15,470 18.0%
Democratic Jackie Speier 13,744 16.0%
Republican Les Kelting 6,578 7.6%
Republican Bruce Makar 6,012 7.0%
Democratic Curtiss Landers 1,475 1.7%
Republican Roger B. Canfield 934 1.1%
Democratic Charles T. Plough 731 0.8%
American Independent Nicholas Waeil Kudrovzeff 372 0.4%
Peace and Freedom Wilson Branch 310 0.4%
Totals 86,126 100%
Voter turnout  %
California State Assembly District 19 election, 1986[32]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jackie Speier 56,809 73.9%
Republican Michael Rocco 20,010 26.1%
Totals 76,819 100%
Voter turnout  %
Democratic hold
California State Assembly District 19 election, 1988[33]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jackie Speier (incumbent) 67,584 77.2%
Republican Robert Silvestri 18,240 20.8%
Peace and Freedom Gene Pepi 1,732 2.0%
Totals 87,556 100%
Voter turnout  %
Democratic hold
California State Assembly District 19 election, 1990[34]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jackie Speier (incumbent) 53,359 100%
Totals 53,359 100%
Voter turnout  %
Democratic hold
California State Assembly District 19 election, 1992[35]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jackie Speier (incumbent) 108,428 75.1%
Republican Ellyne Berger 36,020 24.9%
Totals 144,448 100%
Voter turnout  %
Democratic hold
California State Assembly District 19 election, 1994[36]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jackie Speier (incumbent) 100,602 93.1%
Peace and Freedom David Reichard 7,459 6.9%
Totals 108,061 100%
Voter turnout  %
Democratic hold
California State Senate District 8 election, 1998[37]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jackie Speier 167,216 79.2%
Republican Jim Tomlin 43,936 20.8%
Totals 211,152 100%
Voter turnout  %
Democratic gain from Independent
California State Senate District 8 election, 2002[38]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jackie Speier (incumbent) 158,999 78.2%
Republican Dennis Zell 38,881 19.1%
Libertarian Robert Fliegler 5,540 2.7%
Totals 203,420 100%
Voter turnout  %
Democratic hold
California Democratic Party Lieutenant Gubernatorial primary election, June 6, 2006[39]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic John Garamendi 1,045,130 42.6%
Democratic Jackie Speier 975,547 39.7%
Democratic Liz Figueroa 436,868 17.7%
Totals 2,457,545 100%
Voter turnout  %
California's 12th Congressional District special election, April 8, 2008[40]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jackie Speier 66,279 77.7%
Republican Greg Conlon 7,990 9.4%
Democratic Michelle McMurry 4,546 5.3%
Republican Mike Moloney 4,517 5.3%
Green Barry Hermanson 1,947 2.3%
Independent Kevin Dempsey Peterson (write-in) 2 0.0%
Valid votes 85,281  %
Invalid or blank votes  %
Totals 85,281 100.00%
Voter turnout 25.69%
Democratic hold
United States House of Representatives elections, 2008[41]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jackie Speier 200,442 75.2%
Republican Greg Conlon 49,258 18.5%
Peace and Freedom Nathalie Hrizi 5,793 2.2%
Green Barry Hermanson 5,776 2.1%
Libertarian Kevin Dempsey Peterson 5,584 2.0%
Totals 266,853 100%
Voter turnout  %
Democratic hold
United States House of Representatives elections, 2010[42]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jackie Speier 152,044 75.6%
Republican Mike Moloney 44,475 22.2%
Libertarian Mark Paul Williams 4,611 2.2%
Independent Joseph Michael Harding (write-in) 32 0.0%
Totals 201,162 100%
Voter turnout  %
Democratic hold
United States House of Representatives elections, 2012[43]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jackie Speier 203,828 78.9%
Republican Debbie Bacigalupi 54,455 21.1%
Totals 258,283 100%
Voter turnout  %
Democratic hold



  1. ^ http://www.californiabirthindex.org/
  2. ^ Biographical Directory of Congress, Jackie Speier.
  3. ^ SFGATE: Voters send Jackie Speier to Washington
  4. ^ http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/sfgate/obituary.aspx?pid=159673775
  5. ^ a b c Haddock, Vicki (November 16, 2003). "Jackie Speier– moving on, moving up: Survivor of Jonestown ambush plans run for lieutenant governor". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved January 27, 2008. 
  6. ^ Staff (April 2007). "Alumni News". University of California Hastings College of the Law. Retrieved January 27, 2008. 
  7. ^ a b c Jackie Speier at National Names DataBase.
  8. ^ "Auto Accident Kills Husband of Jackie Speier". Los Angeles Times. January 27, 1994. Retrieved July 28, 2014. 
  9. ^ a b Jackie Speier, Moving On, Moving Up, November 16, 2003, San Francisco Chronicle.
  10. ^ Jackie For Congress: Bio, biography page at 2008 campaign website.
  12. ^ a b Staff (October 2006). "Senator Jackie Speier one of honored guests at banquet". Press Release (Armenian National Committee of America Western Region). Retrieved January 27, 2008. 
  13. ^ HR 56 (1996) - California State Assembly
  14. ^ California Secretary of State, Vote2002, State Senate District 8 at the Wayback Machine (archived August 14, 2007), accessed February 15, 2008
  15. ^ Yates, Dana. "Yee looking to make mark". The Daily Journal (San Mateo County's homepage). Retrieved January 27, 2008. 
  16. ^ Hillary Clinton For President at National Names DataBase.
  17. ^ Kapochunas, Rachel (January 2, 2008). "California Dems Expected to Vie for Lantos Seat". CQ Politics (Congressional Quarterly Inc.). Retrieved January 27, 2008. 
  18. ^ John Wildermuth, San Francisco Chronicle, February 13, 2008, "April 8 primary set to pick Lantos' successor", accessed February 15, 2008
  19. ^ Bishop, Shaun (January 17, 2008). "Lantos endorses Speier as 'our best candidate': 14-term congressman's support comes just days after former state senator announced candidacy". Inside Bay Area (ANG Newspapers). Retrieved January 27, 2008. 
  20. ^ a b c d e VoteSmart.org
  21. ^ a b Link thehill.com
  22. ^ CBS News (2011-02-18). "Rep. Speier tells House she had abortion". Retrieved 2011-02-18. 
  23. ^ Speier, Jackie (February 20, 2011), ""Abortion" Fuels Intolerant Thinking", The Huffington Post, retrieved July 28, 2011 
  24. ^ VoteSmart.org
  25. ^ Link VoteSmart.org
  26. ^ Link VoteSmart.org
  27. ^ Link VoteSmart.org
  28. ^ Fox News http://nation.foxnews.com/tsa/2012/06/23/tsa-s-role-extended-all-mass-transit.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  29. ^ http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-112hr3140rfs/pdf/BILLS-112hr3140rfs.pdf
  30. ^ "LGBT Equality". Congresswoman Jackie Speier (Congressional website). U.S. House of Representatives. Retrieved 30 October 2013. 
  31. ^ Our Campaigns "California District 11 - Special Election Race - March 6, 1979," (retrieved on August 4, 2009).
  32. ^ Our Campaigns "California State Assembly 19 Race - November 4, 1986," (retrieved on August 4, 2009).
  33. ^ Our Campaigns "California State Assembly 19 Race - November 8, 1988," (retrieved on August 4, 2009).
  34. ^ Our Campaigns "California State Assembly 19 Race - November 6, 1990," (retrieved on August 4, 2009).
  35. ^ Our Campaigns "California State Assembly 19 Race - November 3, 1992," (retrieved on August 4, 2009).
  36. ^ Our Campaigns "California State Assembly 19 Race - November 8, 1994," (retrieved on August 4, 2009).
  37. ^ Our Campaigns "California State Senate 8 Race - November 3, 1998," (retrieved on August 4, 2009).
  38. ^ Office of the California Secretary of State "State Senator," (retrieved on August 4, 2009).
  39. ^ Office of the California Secretary of State "Lieutenant Governor, by county," (retrieved on August 4, 2009).
  40. ^ Office of the California Secretary of State "Special Election Results United States House of Representatives, District 12 Special Primary Election, April 8, 2008," (retrieved on August 4, 2009).
  41. ^ Office of the California Secretary of State "United States Representative," (retrieved on August 4, 2009).
  42. ^ Office of the California Secretary of State "United States Representative," (retrieved on February 21, 2011).
  43. ^ Office of the California Secretary of State "United States Representative," (retrieved on January 21, 2014).

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Tom Lantos
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 12th congressional district

April 10, 2008–January 3, 2013
Succeeded by
Nancy Pelosi
Preceded by
Anna Eshoo
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 14th congressional district

January 3, 2013 – present
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
André Carson
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Steve Scalise