Los Angeles representative to Sacramento, Kevin de León has been named the California Senate President, continuing the Democrat’s rise to notoriety as one of California’s most powerful leaders. De León has made his ascent in politics through his advocacy of California’s low wage earners and their families.
De León is the first Latino to lead California’s upper house in 130 years, explained Associated Press reporter, Judy Lin. The California Senate, according to Lin consists of 40 representatives who are elected from districts throughout California. While the position of California Senate President is largely ceremonial, the California State Constitution designates this post as the Lieutenant Governor, who has the power to break a 20-20 voting tie.
“In a voice vote, the chamber elected him to succeed Sacramento’s Darrell Steinberg as Senate President,” said Lin.
In addition to fighting for low wage earners, de León has been noted as the leading proponent in pushing a bill forward that gave immigrants a way to obtain driver’s licenses. He is also recognized for being fearless in his causes.
“He is not afraid to lead,” said outgoing Senate President, Steinberg.
De León was elected to the California Senate in 2010 where he has represented the gritty cities of East Los Angeles, Alhambra, Florence-Graham, Maywood, Vernon, Walnut Park and Los Angeles in the 22nd Senate District. He has skillfully risen to the top of the California Senate to become one of the most powerful Democrat’s in California. According to the California Senate, de León grew up poor in Logan Heights, a barrio of the greater San Diego metropolitan area. He was the first person in his family to graduate from high school before going on to graduate with honors from Pitzer College, a liberal arts university in Claremont.
According to Lin, de León has skillfully used his poor upbringing to leverage legislation. For example because his mother and aunt both worked as housekeepers, de León used these as antidotes during a recent push for legislation that would provide low wage workers a way to build retirement savings.
De León was also the first Latino in more than 100 years to lead California’s Assembly Appropriations Committee. This powerful position is in charge of the most powerful committee in the legislature because it is responsible for reviewing legislative bills that contain a fiscal impact.
Still, de León’s past is not as spotless as it appears. In fact, even as one of the most powerful politicians in California, de León’s name was listed several times in an affidavit issued by the FBI. The document accused another high-powered California politician of accepting a $100,000 bribe for legislative support. The Los Angeles Democrat’s name was not mentioned as a co-conspirator in the affidavit, however the new Senate President was subpoenaed to testify before federal investigators about what he knew of the bribes. No charges have been filed against de Leon, and there is no comment from the U.S. attorney prosecuting the case.
Los Angeles has long been noted for its politicians. Names like Adlai Stevenson, Antonio Villaraigosa, and Barry Goldwater roll off the tongues of historians. However, for the foreseeable future, the name ofLos Angeles Democrat de Leon will be familiar to many throughout California since rising to the top of the California Senate.
By Vincent Aviani