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Rep. Jackie Speier Endorses Kevin Mullin to Succeed Her in Congress

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A woman in a pink suit jacket stands at a podium that reads "Kevin Mullin" on the front. There are several people standing behind her wearing masks and holding "Kevin Mullin" signs.
Rep. Jackie Speier announces her endorsement of Assemblymember Kevin Mullin (behind Speier, in red tie) to succeed her in Congress, on Dec. 6, 2021, in South San Francisco. (Guy Marzorati/KQED)

Democratic Congressperson Jackie Speier on Monday announced her support of Assemblymember Kevin Mullin (D-South San Francisco) to succeed her in the House of Representatives.

The endorsement is a boon for Mullin, a former legislative aide to Speier who is one of a handful of candidates running to succeed her in the June 7 primary.

"Kevin Mullin has almost 10 years now in the state Assembly as a legislator, legislating — that is huge," Speier said in a press conference outside South San Francisco City Hall.

After more than 13 years in the House, Speier announced last month that she would not seek reelection in 2022. She touted Mullin's experience and his work on expanding voting access in the state Legislature — but also emphasized their personal ties.

"I know him, I know him better than any other elected official in the Bay Area," Speier said. "I like to think that I taught him something but maybe he actually taught me something."

Speier is the first member of the Bay Area's congressional delegation to retire from office since George Miller, who left his East Bay seat in 2015.

The region's Democratic dominance has given retiring incumbents a powerful voice in the selection of their successors: Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Lee, Jared Huffman and Mark DeSaulnier all were supported by their predecessors in their first runs for Congress.

Speier, too, won the backing of her forerunner: Former Congressperson Tom Lantos endorsed her candidacy just months before he died in 2008.

The redrawing of congressional districts and the possibility of a Republican takeover of the House could entice more incumbent Democrats to head for the exits.

The lines for Speier's 14th district seat, however, change little in the California Citizens Redistricting Commission's current maps. The district likely will continue to stretch from the southern tip of San Francisco through most of San Mateo County.

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The opportunity to replace Speier in the House — a seat with no term limits — has so far attracted five candidates, including David Canepa, president of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, and Emily Beach, a city councilperson in Burlingame.

Moments after the announcement of Speier's endorsement, Canepa announced that he had raised $300,000 since launching his campaign last month. And, in a statement, he seemed to allude to Speier's endorsement of Mullin, whose father Gene served in the state Legislature.

“My father was a chauffeur, and I know firsthand that nothing in life is given to you," he said. "Backroom deals in Washington, D.C., and Sacramento have failed us and if we are going to tackle the enormous challenges our communities face, we must listen to our constituents and bring local leadership to the halls of power.”

Speier's endorsement came weeks after she told The San Francisco Chronicle: “I'm not going to pick a successor."

When asked by KQED on Monday what had changed since that statement, she replied, "You are misquoting me —  not that that ever happens with the media."

"I was asked, will I anoint someone. I said no, I'm not anointing anyone," Speier said. "And what I'm doing here is endorsing a candidate for Congress. The voters of this district will elect the next member of Congress."

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