California Democrat says he has votes to be Assembly Speaker

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Democratic Congressman Robert Rivas speaks to lawmakers on Capitol Hill in Sacramento, Calif., Monday, May 23, 2022. Rivas said Friday, May 27, 2022 that he had secured enough votes to become the next Speaker of the Assembly, replacing current President Anthony Rendon. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli,)

PA

A California lawmaker made a play for the top leadership job in the state Assembly on Friday, announcing he had secured enough votes in the Democratic-dominated chamber to succeed the current president.

Assemblyman Robert Rivas, a Democrat from Hollister, said in a press release that he has enough votes from the Democratic caucus to replace Anthony Rendon, who has been president since 2016 but does not have to leave office. until he is removed from office in 2024.

Rivas said he met with Rendon on Friday morning “to begin discussions about a transition,” though Rendon’s office remained silent and did not respond to requests for comment.

Rivas would only become a speaker if elected by his colleagues. Lawmakers adjourned Friday for the holiday long weekend and are not expected to return until Tuesday.

“Anthony Rendon has been an effective and unifying president, and I am grateful to him for his consistent leadership, and I am convinced that a smooth transition of power is one of our shared values,” Rivas said in a press release.

Democratic Assemblyman Evan Low, who lost a committee post last year in an alleged clash with Rendon, said he supports Rivas’s bid for the job. He said the timing of the transition and the formal caucus vote were being negotiated “all in real time.”

“It’s about unity, unifying our caucus and bringing us all together, and that’s what the next speaker is all about,” Low said.

Low wouldn’t say unity is lacking now, nor would he criticize Rendon’s leadership. Rather, he described it as a natural progression with Rendon being removed from office in 2024.

“Part of that is also, when you look at the election coming up, you have almost 25 new members of the Legislative Assembly coming in,” Low said. “And it’s important for governance that there is stability, institutional knowledge that we can take to the next class.”

California state legislators are limited to 12 years in office. Rendon has been in office since 2012, one of a large number of Democrats elected that year who would be removed from office in 2024. Many of Rendon’s colleagues who were elected with him have already left office or are considering leaving. approaching their term limits. , which eroded Rendon’s support base.

The change could come during a tense period in the legislative calendar, as lawmakers must pass an operating budget by June 15 or forfeit their salaries. Legislative leaders negotiated with Governor Gavin Newsom – negotiations that could be upset by a change in leadership in the Assembly.

A key disagreement in the budget is how to distribute billions of dollars in tax refunds intended to alleviate rising prices due to inflation, including at the gas pump. Newsom wants the money to go to people who own cars, while lawmakers want to direct it to taxpayers earning below a certain income.

Rivas was first elected to the Legislative Assembly in 2018. His district includes San Benito County and parts of Monterey, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz counties. In a press release, Rivas said he would be the “first modern-day California State Assembly Speaker to represent a rural district.”

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