WASHINGTON — There was a brief moment in Nancy Pelosi’s life when she worried she had too much power. She had so many titles in the California Democratic Party, including chairwoman, that she told Lindy Boggs, a Louisiana congresswoman, that she was thinking of giving some up.
That was in 1984, and Ms. Boggs “said, ‘Darlin’, no man would ever think that. Don’t you give anything up,’” Ms. Pelosi said in a recent interview, leaning forward as she mimicked Ms. Boggs’s Southern accent. “And then she said, ‘Know thy power.’”
More than three decades later, Ms. Pelosi is all but assured on Thursday of reclaiming her former title as speaker of the House, the first lawmaker in more than half a century to hold the office twice. With the gavel in hand, she will cement her status as the highest-ranking and most powerful elected woman in American political history.
The story of her rise, from the well-mannered daughter of a Baltimore mayor to a savvy legislator and prolific fund-raiser who is as much feared within her caucus as she is admired, is, in some ways, the story of the women’s movement itself. It is also a comeback story; after losing the speakership eight years ago, she will now usher in a new era of divided government in Washington.