Pelosi gets longshot progressive primary challenger

San Francisco attorney Shahid Buttar on Friday will formally challenge Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDC argues it is shortchanged by coronavirus relief bill Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — US coronavirus cases hit 100,000 | Trump signs T stimulus package | Trump employs defense powers to force GM to make ventilators | New concerns over virus testing Hillicon Valley: Apple rolls out coronavirus screening app, website | Pompeo urged to crack down on coronavirus misinformation from China | Senators push FTC on price gouging | Instacart workers threaten strike MORE (D-Calif.) in the Democratic primary for California's 12th District, further illustrating the divide between the establishment and progressive Democrats.

Buttar, who challenged Pelosi in 2018, will officially announce his 2020 bid after filing paperwork at San Francisco City Hall, hitting the candidate filing deadline. 


The self-identified democratic socialist is running on a number of progressive policies, including "Medicare for All," the Green New Deal and combatting mass incarceration and mass surveillance, citing Pelosi as siding with conservatives on those issues.

"Each of those are areas in which the Speaker has taken decidedly conservative positions, just by leading the Democratic Party," Buttar told The Hill. "Our campaign essentially seeks to liberate the voice of the country's most progressive city." 

The Hill has reached out to Pelosi's campaign for comment. 

Buttar, 44, is of Pakistani descent and emigrated to America's Midwest from the United Kingdom when he was a child. He later moved to California in 2000 to study law at Stanford University. 

His campaign has raised $300,000, including $50,000 in the month of November alone. 

Buttar acknowledged that his campaign will not likely match Pelosi in fundraising but said it is not a necessity. 

"We don't have to," he said. "We only have to raise the money we need to get across the city." 

"The general election is still nearly a year away from now. At the pace that we're raising money, we'll break the million dollars between now and the November 2020 election," he said. 

However, defeating Pelosi will be a hard proposition for Buttar or Pelosi's two other Democratic primary challengers.

The Speaker, who has served in Congress since 1987, won her 2018 midterm election against Republican Lisa Remmer with roughly 86 percent of the vote. She won her party's primary race that same year with roughly 68 percent of the vote. 

While Pelosi enjoys widespread support from the party's leadership, Buttar said he is representative of a growing progressive voice within the party, one that is growing louder with the election of figures like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOvernight Energy: Court upholds Trump repeal of Obama fracking rule | Oil price drop threatens fracking boom | EPA eases rules on gasoline sales amid coronavirus Ocasio-Cortez blasts coronavirus stimulus package as 'shameful' on House floor Oil price drop threatens US fracking boom MORE (D-N.Y.) in 2018. 

"Our goal, essentially, is to seize the party from the corporate interests that have ruled it for the last 30 years," Buttar said. 

The primary challenge comes one day after Pelosi made history, announcing that the House will move to impeach President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump orders US troops back to active duty for coronavirus response Trump asserts power to decide info inspector general for stimulus gives Congress Fighting a virus with the wrong tools MORE

While the move is widely popular among Democrats of all stripes, Buttar criticized Pelosi's handling of the process, saying Pelosi should have started the inquiry earlier in Trump's presidency and incorporated what he said are the president's violations of the Emoluments Clause. 

"The idea that the impeachment inquiry fails to include the emoluments violations does several things," Buttar said. "The first thing, and the most problematic, it invites future corruption from other presidents emboldened by the impunity for corruption." 

The primary for California's 12th District will be held on March 3.