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Byline: Jim Puzzanghera
WASHINGTON _ For the past week, many Republicans have been rubbing their hands in glee over the prospect that their Democratic foes would turn to Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California to lead their party in the House of Representatives, a historic first for a woman.
Conservative pundits and GOP members have derided Pelosi as ``a San Francisco liberal,'' a moniker that conjures images of communes, tree-sitters, peace signs and legalized drugs.
But those who know Pelosi well said that perception is dead wrong.
Though she is a staunch liberal who has lived in San Francisco for more than three decades, her politics were born in a rowhouse in Baltimore's Little Italy. Pelosi was imbued with a pragmatic, family-values brand of New Deal liberalism that led her to first raise her own five children before seeking office herself.
``Those people that are labeling her as a left-wing, off-the-wall kind of liberal don't even know Nancy,'' said her brother Tommy D'Alesandro III, 72, who served as mayor of Baltimore. ``I think the nation's going to be surprised at how far-reaching her vision is and how practical her politics are.''
Pelosi's father, Tommy D'Alesandro Jr., was legendary in Baltimore politics _ a …