The Senate just voted to elect Senator Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) as the next Senate President pro Tem. The deal is that Senator Steinberg (D-Sacramento) will remain the leader through the end of the current legislative session and that Senator de Leon will take over sometime around November.
Senator de Leon has been the long-considered front runner to take over after Steinberg terms out of the Senate at the end of this year. However, the politics around his rise to leadership got a little murky as the Senate was embroiled in the political of fellow Senator Calderon (D-Montebello) as the FBI documents frequently named de Leon in the investigation – though did not claim he did anything illegal. Senate leadership dynamics grew murkier still as two additional Senators, unrelated to the Calderon scandal, were costumed by their own political scandals. The resulting loss of three Senators from the Democratic Caucus cast serious shadows over the current and future leadership of the State Senate. Today, the politics are clearer and Senator de Leon is set to become the first Latino leader of the Senate in modern times. He received warm and thoughtful comments from many colleagues from both parties before the floor vote.
Senator de Leon has as strong background in education. He previously served in the State Assembly and worked for the California Teachers Association (CTA) where he served as an organizer. He also worked for the National Education Association (NEA) in Washington DC. Kevin was the author and driving force behind Proposition 39, the energy efficiency funds that are available to K-12 schools. Having lived in Santa Barbara prior to being elected to state office, he even walked precincts to help elect Jack O’Connell.
Senator de Leon was elected by unanimous voice vote of the entire Senate. He is able to serve as the Senate leader until he is termed out of the Senate in 2018. We look forward to working with him.