No, this is not another movie reference. I’m serious.
It turns out that prominent Columbia attorney Jim Leventis is the godfather of the youngest of Nancy Pelosi’s five children, Alexandra. The Leventises and the Pelosis have been good friends for 40 years. Here’s how that happened:
After he graduated from USC law school, someone said, "Go north, young man," or something along those lines, so the Columbia
native went to New York for a stint with Citibank. The guy at the desk next to his was Paul Pelosi, who had married a Baltimore girl name of Nancy Patricia D’Alesandro. (Her father had been mayor of that city, as her brother would later be.)
The couples became close friends, and the Leventises, who at that time had no kids of their own, felt a bond with the Pelosi children. When the youngest came along, Jim was asked to stand as godfather.
"She was just a good mom," is the way Mr. Leventis remembers the lady the Republicans just did so much to demonize (unsuccessfully, as it turns out).
Paul Pelosi was from California, and eventually the family moved back to his home in San Francisco, where his brother was on the local council. Mrs. Pelosi got involved in politics, but on a part-time, peripheral, grass-roots kind of way. That was the extent of her involvement because, as Mr. Leventis recalls, she "had too many children to raise."
Eventually, they grew up. (Goddaughter Alexandra, who is a brand-new mom herself as of this week, is a filmmaker known, ironically enough, for a documentary about George W. Bush’s 2000 campaign, "Journeys with George.") From then on, Mrs. Pelosi went at politics full-bore.
Jim Leventis, you may recall, has had his own foray into electoral politics. He was the Democratic nominee for the 2nd Congressional District in 1988. He did pretty well, too. He won in every county in the district save one. Unfortunately for him, that one was Lexington, incumbent Floyd Spence‘s home turf. It went so big for its homeboy that it overcame the Democrat’s advantage elsewhere.
Speaker-to-be Pelosi actually came down and helped with that campaign, which was Mr. Spence’s toughest re-election fight to date.
Mr. Leventis remains involved — more peripherally, as Mrs. Pelosi once was — in politics. He helped Jim Rex in his (apparently) successful bid for S.C. superintendent of education. But he acknowledges, in the nicest possible way, that his politics are somewhat different from those of his long-time friend. "I think hers are more extreme, so to speak," he said. "My style is more, let’s get together and get things done." But he hastens to add that she "does a good job at what she does."
The Leventises and the Pelosis remain friends. "Paul and I talk pretty frequently," he said. As for Paul’s wife, this is the bottom line for Jim Leventis: "As a person, she’s just a wonderful mom and just a wonderful friend."
Thus spake the godfather.