Gay Man Poised to Become Speaker of California Assembly

L.A. Democratic Assemblyman John Pérez looks set to become the first openly gay speaker of the California Assembly:

Perez "Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Baldwin Hills (Los Angeles County), said Wednesday that Pérez has secured support of a majority of the Assembly's Democratic Caucus – including herself – and will have enough votes (41 are needed) to become speaker.

It may not be that easy, however: Two other Latino Los Angeles Democrats – Kevin de Leon and Felipe Fuentes – had been vying for the leadership position. Fuentes ultimately threw his support behind Pérez, but de Leon, who secured the support of the Assembly's Latino Caucus on Wednesday, 'is still a candidate for speaker,' said his chief of staff, Daniel Reeves.

Bass said she is confident Pérez will win the seat…Pérez, a freshman lawmaker who is the cousin of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, emerged in recent weeks as a contender for the position. He is chair of the Assembly Democratic Caucus and took the party lead securing Assembly votes during last month's contentious negotiations over water policy. He formerly worked as a union organizer and most recently as political director for a Southern California local of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union."


  1. Joel says

    I think it’s great openly gay figures are gaining powerful positions, however, we have such a mess in the legislature, we frankly just need someone who can truly LEAD and legislate in there. I hope Leader Perez will be able to do that.

  2. says

    Awesome news, but also a bit strange — one of the most powerful guys in the state is not treated equally under that state’s laws. The proposition system is a joke. (See, for example, Prop. 8, tax laws, etc.).

  3. John says

    I wish him all the best. But it isn’t as if he’s going to lose anything should he fail. Perez has a 51 to 29 majority. And the Democrats have controlled the legislature since 1970.

    Besides, being Speaker of the House is fun.

    Unlike governors or the president, a speaker generally doesn’t care if the public likes them or not. At the federal level, Pelosi has a 12% approval rating. Gingrich didn’t fare much better in the 1990s. And in terms of prestige and clout, the head of the legislative branch usually has quite a bit of authority. Not as much as the chief executive. But enough to affect policy on a wide range of issues.

  4. John in Boston says

    California, like a few other states, has a disastrous problem with out of control entitlement spending and public service sector unions benefits, especially pensions. These are the main reasons for California’s duplicity of taxes and state fees, and a big part of why the middle class are leaving in droves, being replaced often by those seeking state benefits. My state Massachusetts has similar but less severe problems. Greater Boston encompasses 4 other states so it’s easy to move to jurisdictions with fewer taxes (New Hampshire, no income or sales tax, is only 35 miles north of downtown Boston) than MA but still work here and be only 30-40 miles from Boston. Can’t do that in L.A. of S.F.

    Perez owes all the people and institutions who’re milking the state and taxpayers. The mayor’s cousin? LOL! Nepotism is also alive and well.

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