SAN FRANCISCO — Fund-raiser and longtime Democratic Party activist Nancy Pelosi easily won her first bid for public office Tuesday, downing Republican Harriet Ross in a special election to replace the late Rep. Sala Burton in Congress.
Pelosi, a former state Democratic chairwoman, breezed by more than a 2-1 margin in the 5th District race.
Final unofficial returns showed the Democratic nominee with 45,770 votes, or 62% of the total, to 22,188, or 30%, for Ross, a city deputy district attorney who faced forbidding odds in the heavily Democratic district. None of the four minor-party candidates on the ballot received more than 2.2% of the vote.
"Nothing was more significant than the endorsement of Sala Burton, and we had an organization to match the endorsement," said Pelosi.
"My top priorities will be cutting off aid to the Contras and increasing funding and education efforts for AIDS," she said.
The winner said she had done no exit polling because "it's such a wonderfully Democratic district" that she never feared she could lose.
Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 3 to 1 in the district, which includes 85% of San Francisco--all except the Richmond, Haight and Fillmore districts.
Ross, 62, known for toughness in her city job, hammered away at Pelosi throughout the campaign, insisting that she could win with a shoestring $30,000 budget, homemade flyers and herself as campaign manager.
Although she placed fifth in the primary with just 2.8% of the vote, Ross gained a spot in Tuesday's runoff by being the top finisher among Republicans.
She hoped to capitalize on the bitterness of the Democratic primary race to woo Democratic voters away from Pelosi, 47, who waged a million-dollar campaign.
Pelosi's chief challenger for the Democratic nomination, Supervisor Harry Britt, had joined others in the primary campaign in attacking Pelosi as a political dilettante "anointed" by her predecessor, who died in February of cancer.