A Pro-Bernie Sanders Democrat Is Challenging Nancy Pelosi

by Seth Millstein
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The primary between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders triggered a civil war inside the Democratic Party, and that struggle is still ongoing. Rep. Nancy Pelosi has been the undisputed leader of House Democrats for about a decade and a half, but now, she too is getting pulled into the Democratic Party's internal fight: Stephen Jaffe, a pro-Sanders Democrat, will challenge Pelosi in her San Francisco-area district during the next congressional primary.

Jaffe is an employment trial lawyer who, according to his website, counsels only employees, not employers. What this means is that he represents workers who claim to have been wrongfully terminated, discriminated against, sexually harassed, or otherwise mistreated by their employers. Given that fair treatment of workers was a centerpiece of Sanders' campaign, it's no surprise that Jaffe is a fan of the Vermont politician. His campaign logo seems to emphasize this: It utilizes the same color scheme and curved brushstroke image that Sanders used during his 2016 run, and even contains an outline of a bird — a possible reference to the bird that fortuitously landed on Sanders' podium during the campaign.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Jaffe called himself a "pretty hard-core Bernie supporter." And indeed, he was. In addition to volunteering for Sanders' campaign, Jaffe co-filed a lawsuit on behalf of Sanders' supporters after the California primary, requesting that certain voters with no party affiliation be allowed to "re-vote" in the primary. Even though the lawsuit went nowhere, Jaffe told the Times that he was inspired to stay involved in politics after Sanders lost the primary.

Now, Jaffe is running against Pelosi to represent San Francisco in the House of Representatives, telling the Times that "there's a rumbling, a wave of activism here by people who have really never stepped forward before."

Needless to say, some Sanders supporters are very excited about Jaffe's candidacy — but they may want to curb their enthusiasm a little bit. Pelosi has a near-ironclad hold on her district, and it's going to be really, really difficult to beat her. In the last three primaries for her district, she's won about 78, 74, and 75 percent of the vote, according to Ballotpedia. She's never received less than 70 percent of the vote in a general election — and that includes the 2016 race, in which she was running against a genuine Sanders-esque progressive. Simply put, the voters in Pelosi's district like her.

Still, the 2018 election is far away. It's possible that the sentiments of voters in the district have moved to the left since Clinton's loss, and if they have, Jaffe may just have a chance.