Democratic Assemblyman John Perez of Los Angeles is about to become the California’s first openly gay speaker of the Assembly.
The position will make Perez the highest-ranking gay politician in California history. The speaker is generally considered the second or third most powerful position in state politics, after the governor and the Senate president pro tem.
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.
Bass has said she plans to step down from the position early next year.
Perez has only served in the Assembly for one year, which means he likely will be speaker for five years, thereby allowing him to solidify his power base and influence over an extended period.
His long tenure also promises to increase the influence of the Assembly. He is the cousin of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and is chair of Assembly Democratic Caucus.
The California State Assembly is the lower house of the California State Legislature. The Speaker of the Assembly presides over the Assembly in the chief leadership position, controlling the flow of legislation and committee assignments. The Speaker is elected by the majority party caucus, followed by confirmation of the full Assembly on passage of a floor vote.
The full Assembly Democratic Caucus is expected to vote on the new speaker December 10.