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Graphic: Nancy Pelosi’s leadership tenure is among the longest in U.S. history

Pelosi has served 10 terms as the Democratic leader in the House. Only one other person has served longer.
Dick Gephardt raises the arm of Nancy Pelosi after a ceremonial swearing in, on Jan. 7, 2003, in Washington
Rep. Dick Gephardt raises Nancy Pelosi’s arm after a ceremonial swearing-in in Washington on Jan. 7, 2003.Chuck Kennedy / Tribune News Service via Getty Images

When Speaker Nancy Pelosi leaves her post as the top Democrat in the House early next year, it will bring to a close one of the lower chamber’s longest leadership tenures in U.S. history.

Pelosi, D-Calif., has served 10 terms as the leader of the House Democrats since 2003, including four terms as the speaker. According to an NBC News analysis of House data, only Sam Rayburn has led a party in the House longer.

Of the nearly 70 politicians to have led their parties in the House since 1789, 45 have done so for more than one session of Congress. Thirty-one have led for more than two sessions, and 10 have led for more than four.

Pelosi’s move upholds a pledge she made in 2018 to serve no more than two additional terms as the leader. She won re-election in the midterm elections and said Thursday she will remain in Congress representing San Francisco.

Pelosi made the announcement a day after NBC News projected that Republicans would gain a slim majority in the House in the next Congress.

She first served as speaker from 2007 to 2011, returning to the role in 2019. She became the first woman to lead either party in Congress after she was elected House minority leader in 2002.