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Nancy Pelosi and the Most Powerful Women in Politics: The Broadsheet

September 25, 2019, 11:21 AM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Lady Hale makes an ‘unprecedented’ decision on Brexit, Phoebe Waller-Bridge inks an Amazon deal, and these are the most powerful women in politics—Nancy Pelosi included. Have a powerful Wednesday. 

EVERYONE'S TALKING

- Pelosi and power. Our timing, I must say, is impeccable.  

Just as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced that Democrats would begin a formal impeachment inquiry into whether President Donald Trump "sought help from a foreign government for his reelection," we published our list of the 25 Most Powerful Women in Politics

Although the list isn't technically ranked, Pelosi is front and center. Tuesday's dramatic news turn provided a perfect illustration of why that is. Yes, there's the undeniable influence of her position—she's the first-ever woman to serve as Speaker of the House and the most powerful woman currently serving in U.S. elected office—but there's also the heft of her decision-making power. Even as many in her party clamored for impeachment, she spent months holding the line against it. Then, yesterday, she seized the moment and flipped the script. Will the gamble pay off for Pelosi and the Dems? Too soon to know—but it was certainly the definition of a power move.

What's more, Pelosi's clout has a trickle-down effect. As director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University Debbie Walsh told me, the Speaker's day-in day-out leadership gives an edge to the women running for our nation's highest office. "She’s a constant reminder that women are tough enough and strong enough to lead at the highest levels," Walsh said. 

Some of those candidates—Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Kamala Harris—follow Pelosi on our list, as do other elected officials: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez for influence that transcends her status as a freshman congresswoman, and Rep. Elise Stefanik for her work getting GOP women through the primaries and ultimately elected, shaping the future of the Republican Party.

There are less familiar names, too. Have you heard of the Simon sisters? Deborah Simon and Cynthia Simon-Skjodt are shopping-mall magnates, heirs to the fortune built by the Simon Property Group. They are among the few women on lists of top political donors who appear not as a secondary donor in a married couple—a scenario that is frequently seen as a way to get around campaign finance restrictions for the (usually male) spouse driving the political giving. The Simon sisters ramped up their donations to Democratic and liberal politicians after the 2016 presidential election. 

Then there's Seema Verma, who runs the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, setting policies that affect 120 million Americans. And San Francisco Fed president Mary Daly, Cleveland’s Loretta Mester, Kansas City’s Esther George, and board of governors member Lael Brainard, who continue Janet Yellen's legacy as the women at the Fed

Read on for more on who made the cut and why. It's a fascinating group; as Walsh says, "They can’t just be lumped together as ‘the women.’" 

Emma Hinchliffe
emma.hinchliffe@fortune.com
@_emmahinchliffe

ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

- Listen to Lady Hale. For as much turmoil as U.S. politics faced yesterday, the U.K. managed to match it. The U.K. Supreme Court ruled that it was unlawful for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to have asked Queen Elizabeth II to suspend Parliament over Brexit. Lady Hale, president of the Supreme Court, read out the "unprecedented, extraordinary" ruling, becoming a trending topic over her delivery and remarkable spider brooch. NBC News

- Oh, Lloyd's. One in 10 workers at insurance market Lloyd's of London said they have witnessed sexual harassment. CEO John Neal called the results of the 6,000-respondent survey, commissioned after a Bloomberg report on the work environment, "devastating" last week. BBC

- Zooming to the top. Fortune's Susie Gharib sits down with AutoNation CEO Cheryl Miller, who runs the world's largest auto dealership after taking over the job in July. Miller says she felt just as validated by the surge in stock price that accompanied the news as by the positive response from employees. Watch more here: Fortune

- Diary of another young girl. Renia Spiegel was a Jewish teenager under both Soviet and Nazi occupation regimes in Poland at the same time as Anne Frank in the Netherlands. Her diary, seen as a counterpart to Frank's, will be published for the first time in English this week. New York Times

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: As her husband Adam Neumann steps down as WeWork CEO, Rebakah Neumann will reportedly "relinquish her role in the business"; she was WeWork chief brand officer and CEO of the company's education arm WeGrow. Disney veteran Catherine Powell is leaving her role running U.S. and Paris theme parks for Walt Disney Co. New York Media CEO Pamela Wasserstein will become president of Vox Media with a seat on the company's board after Vox agreed to acquire New York Magazine.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

- Fit as a flea. Following her Emmys wins, Phoebe Waller-Bridge inked a $20 million-a-year deal with Amazon, which streams Fleabag. She follows in the footsteps of Ava DuVernay, Shonda Rhimes, and Janet Mock, who have signed multi-million-dollar overall deals with Netflix. Variety

- Daddy, don't sing that song. Comedian and musician Yan Lifei wrote a song with the lyrics "Mommy, don’t go to work, or I will have no one to play with. Mommy, even if you do go to work, you won’t make much money;" he performed the song with his young daughter. The performance went viral in China and is attracting outrage over the lyrics, which Yan said he wrote when his daughter cried when her mother left for work. Guardian 

- Operatic excuse. Twenty women have accused opera singer Plácido Domingo of sexual misconduct; he's denied the allegations. Yet, in answering why he has not suspended the opera star's performances, Metropolitan Opera general manager Peter Gelb said the allegations lacked "corroboration." NPR

- Pro-choice storytelling. One place Planned Parenthood is making progress? Hollywood. Caren Spruch is the organization's director of arts and entertainment engagement. She "encourages screenwriters to tell stories about abortion and works as a script doctor" when they do. Her recent projects include Shrill and Jane the Virgin. Washington Post

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ON MY RADAR

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Kendra Scott to open female leadership institute at University of Texas WWD

Why the myth of period syncing won't go away The Atlantic

QUOTE

"I wanted to be something great, to be like Madame Curie. Rock-and-roll, it just happened."

-Patti Smith