Thursday, February 28, 2008

Karen Bass elected as California Assembly speaker

L.A.'s Bass to become new Assembly leader

The Democrat triumphed in crowded field, will be state's first black woman speaker.

By Jim Sanders and Shane Goldmacher -
Published 12:00 am PST Thursday, February 28, 2008

Assemblywoman Karen Bass secured the votes to become the next speaker of the California Assembly late Wednesday, elevating an African American woman to the post for the first time in California history.

Bass, a 54-year-old Los Angeles Democrat, was the top lieutenant of outgoing Speaker Fabian Núñez, who pitched in behind the scenes Wednesday to help Bass win a feverish, 10-person battle for the top job.

Steve Maviglio, Núñez's spokesman, said the 48-member Democratic caucus will meet privately early today. Immediately afterward, the entire Assembly will vote on Bass' selection.

Bass is expected to work alongside Núñez in the coming months, then transition into the Assembly's top spot.

Bass, Núñez and Democratic colleagues sipped wine in the speaker's office late Wednesday to celebrate her ascension, assured by events that came together in rapid-fire fashion.

Bass, considered the front-runner for weeks, will assume a political job considered by many to be second only to the governor in power and prestige in California government.

"She's a fantastic person, she's a great candidate and I think she's going to be a wonderful speaker," said Assemblyman Kevin de Leon, a Los Angeles Democrat who also fought for the job.

Núñez will be forced from office at the end of 2008 by term limits. The end of his reign as speaker – the longest of the term limits era – was sealed after voters defeated a Feb. 5 ballot measure that would have extended his time in office.

Neither Bass nor Núñez was available for comment late Wednesday.

Besides De Leon, Bass beat a field of Democratic speakership candidates consisting of Alberto Torrico of Newark, Hector De La Torre of South Gate, Joe Coto of San Jose, Fiona Ma of San Francisco, Charles Calderon of Whittier, Mike Feuer of Los Angeles, Anthony Portantino of La Cañada Flintridge, and Ed Hernandez of West Covina.

Torrico, also considered a prime contender, applauded Bass' leadership.
From the Sacramento Bee.

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