Shahid Buttar looks to challenge Speaker Pelosi for her seat

For the first time in 33 years, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will face another Democrat in the general election. The race to represent San Francisco and the 12th congressional district pits the Washington DC powerhouse who’s held her seat since 1987 against Shahid Buttar, a democratic socialist, activist and legal advocate. “I’m really concerned about the future of this country, I see Americans struggling in the face of multiple crises in which both major parties have been demonstrably complicit,” said Buttar.

Buttar supports progressive policies popular amongst his party’s left: the Green New Deal and Medicare-for-All to name a few.  He’s encouraged by the rise of the likes of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, “The Squad,” and recent wins by progressive challengers over moderate incumbents. He’s picked up the endorsements of progressive groups in the Bay Area, but not the big names like AOC or Senator Bernie Sanders. 

Speaker Pelosi is one of the most visible officials on Capitol Hill and holds weekly news conferences. Buttar says she refuses to debate him or any challenger since 1987. “It does in fact disrespect challengers to not show up for a debate for over 30 years, but it demonstrates a bigger disrespect of the democratic process, and the voters of the district,” said Buttar.

Speaker Pelosi’s campaign did not respond to our request for comment.  The San Francisco Democratic Party did—chair David Campos writing this statement:

“The San Francisco Democratic party is proud to enthusiastically support the re-election of speaker Nancy Pelosi who continues to advocate for the interests of all San Francisco’s diverse communities and continues to represent San Francisco’s progressive values.”

Buttar lost endorsements after recent allegations of sexual harassment and claims of sexism from former staffers, as reported by other news outlets. He denies all of the allegations. “I’m very committed to the issues confronting my district, I’m disappointed so many organizations that had endorsed us, proved unwilling to consider the evidence of witnesses,” said Buttar. In a Twitter thread he wrote about an investigation, “This discussion has moved into local organizations, which are looking into the matter. I invite their examination of these claims and our campaign welcomes any scrutiny.”

There’s no question Buttar faces an uphill climb. Speaker Pelosi won 74% of the vote in March’s primary, he came in second with 13%.  Buttar makes this pitch to voters: “The future is at stake, there is a great deal that will turn in the future on the actions we take in the present, that’s why it’s important we seize the opportunity to make change happen.”