Rep. Nancy Pelosi didn't pick up the congressional seats needed to restore her to the prime perch of House Speaker, but she intends to stay on as Democratic leader. It's a decision that keeps her atop Washington politics, and it also means that San Francisco and its needs won't be ignored inside the Beltway.
Her decision was not a major surprise. She has no significant rivals, and she ranks as a prolific fundraiser and ultra-disciplined pol who rarely strays from message.
Though she can be contained and cautious in public, she's proved a force in remaking her side of the House. When she assumed leadership 10 years ago, straight white men ran the chamber. Now the majority of Pelosi's party are women, Latinos, African Americans, gays and lesbians. It's an unmistakable contrast with Republicans.
San Francisco voters - who gave her another term with 85 percent of the vote - should be pleased. While guiding her party in the House, she's rained favors on her district.
The local list includes continued support for the Presidio, which she guided from abandoned military base to a mix of popular public uses. There are billions of dollars for a new downtown transit terminal and subway line. Add to that millions for AIDS programs and subsidized housing in the city.
If Pelosi had chosen to step down, these projects might have a difficult path. But with her as a House leader, San Francisco knows it has a reliable protector in Washington.