From Kristen Mack’s article in Monday’s Houston Chronicle:
No trip is purely personal when you are speaker of the House.
Nancy Pelosi, the first woman to lead the U.S. House of Representatives, was in Houston this weekend for the first Communion of her 8-year-old grandson, Sean Kenneally.
“I was mainly here for this,” Pelosi said after the Sunday service at St. Anne Catholic Church. “And to celebrate Mother’s Day. This is exciting for us.”
But today politics will once again be front and center as she headlines a fundraiser for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee at The Coronado Club. This is her first trip to Texas since taking up the gavel.
“We’re honored whenever she comes,” Pelosi’s daughter, Jacqueline Kenneally, said. “We’re especially thrilled to have her here to celebrate
Sean’s special day.”
When local Democrats found out Pelosi planned to come to Houston they scheduled a luncheon in her honor. Pelosi, who represents San Francisco, has long been the House Democrats’ most prolific fundraiser.
Entrance to the high-dollar event starts at $2,500. In order to gain “committee member” status, people must pledge to write a $10,000 check or raise it, and co-chairs must commit to writing or raising $25,000 per couple. Democratic heavy-hitters Bob and Gracie Cavnar are hosting the event.
The event is oversold. “We have more people than space,” Gracie Cavnar said on Sunday. They are expecting 75 attendees and have raised more than $150,000 for the Democratic Party.
The Cavnars praised Pelosi’s leadership in Washington for “wrangling her raucous caucus into a powerfully organized voice of the people.”
“We have always been impressed with the way she rules with an iron fist inside that beautifully wrought velvet glove. You’d think she was a Southern woman,” the Cavnars wrote in their e-mail invitation.
This is the seventh year the Cavnars have hosted an annual event for Pelosi. Last year’s contributors included David Matthiesen, Richard Mithoff, Beverly and James Postl and Sheridan and John Eddie Williams.
The Houston-area congressional Democratic delegation — Al Green, Gene Green, Sheila Jackson Lee and Nick Lampson — plan to attend the luncheon.
Pelosi is expected to make brief remarks at the event, which is closed to the public and the media, before flying back to Washington this afternoon.
“The country really spoke in November that they were ready for a fresh approach and change,” Cavnar said.
Pelosi’s tenure as the third-ranking member of government has stood in sharp contrast to the Republican administration.
Last week Pelosi led an effort in the House to finance the Iraq war only through midsummer. President Bush has threatened to veto the House plan, approved on a 221-205 vote on Thursday, to require him to seek approval in two months for the balance of the war money.
In April, Pelosi met with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus against Bush’s wishes. Bush said it sent mixed messages to Syria, which his administration considers to be a state supporter of terrorism.
During last year’s race to replace former U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay in the 22nd Congressional District, Republicans invoked Pelosi’s name, saying a vote for Lampson, who went on to win, was a vote for Pelosi as speaker should the Democrats reclaim control of the House, which they did.
“She’s never been daunted by Texas,” Cavnar said of the reliably Republican Lone Star State. “Republicans always want to invoke the fear of ultraliberalism. As the speaker, she does not let her personal politics drive the business of the House.”